The Adventures of a First-Year Student
By Kristen Manieri
Photos by Judy Watson Tracy
To that end, students can no longer fade into their dorm rooms either, thanks to a progressive living concept known as Living Learning Communities (LLC). Director of Living Learning Communities and Faculty-in-Residence Gabriel Barreneche stresses that LLCs are, first and foremost, communities. “LLCs are where new students begin to get a sense of belonging,” said Barreneche, associate professor of modern languages and literatures. “It’s where freshmen start to find their little niche in the Rollins world.”
Teixeira lives in Ward Hall, a “mixed-use” space combining residential rooms, leisure areas, a classroom, and study rooms, as well as a faculty residence. The people on Teixeira’s floor are all from…you guessed it…her RCC. “Whenever I need help with homework, I know I can knock on someone’s door,” she said. But it’s not all serious stuff. At least one of Ward’s two TV rooms is taken over on Mondays for Gossip Girl, and Teixeira can often be found on the fourth-floor patio working on her tan.
Following Her Passions
It’s 7 a.m. and Teixeira begins another day filled with classes, homework, and community-service projects, but also activities that nurture her distinct passions. In keeping with its goals, the Explorations program has helped her connect with activities that will enhance her College experience and plant her firmly in the Rollins community. Her exhaustive schedule includes dance-team practices, weekend getaways with new friends, Zumba classes, leadership retreats, and posting blogs about her Rollins experiences as one of a handful of student bloggers dubbed R-Journalists.
“Life is anything but ordinary at the moment and I am loving it,” Teixeira blogged near the end of her first semester. “There is never a dull moment, never a boring thought. Life at Rollins has so far proven to be a rollercoaster of excitement, adventure, and, of course, schoolwork. I am looking forward to everything else Rollins has in store for me and I plan to take advantage of all that I can. There is so much to get involved in on campus that you really have to ensure there is a balance between your work and your play. Once that balance is met, you have officially started your four-year journey—or should I say rollercoaster—at Rollins.”
A New Home Sweet Home
Through Explorations, Rollins uniquely envelops and embraces new students so they feel safe, comfortable, and cared about—and it doesn’t happen by chance. The program has perfected a winning formula that looks something like this: create a structure in which connectivity and community can flourish, then consistently nourish that connectivity through the RCC program, peer mentorship program, and meaningful activities that enrich and deepen the college experience.
“We’re here to make sure no one gets lost in the crowd,” said Meghan Harte, executive director of student success and director of the Explorations program. “We know that making connections is what keeps students in college. When students connect with each other, a mentor, or faculty member, they’re more likely to ask for help when they need it, more likely to stay here, and more likely to have a positive college experience.”
“New students arrive on campus facing so many fears and unknowns,” said Explorations Student Coordinator Laura Berk ’12. “Explorations gives them the basics for not only surviving but thriving in the first semester and beyond.”
As winter break begins, a contented and exhausted Teixeira heads home to Trinidad to enjoy the holidays…and, finally, some stew chicken. She holds in her rearview mirror moments that will stay with her for a lifetime. She has laughed, pulled her hair out, cried. And even though not a day went by that she didn’t text her dad, she’s not the same person who left the small island not so long ago. She’s a Rollins student now. And while the world will need to wait three more years, it’s still her oyster.