Orientation has started early for students and mentors in the SIAS program.
The Summer Institute for Acadmic Success, or SIAS, is a program that brings unique and underrepresented students to campus for an extra week before the rest of the first-years move in.
This gives them a chance to get to know the campus and each other, as well as get a head-start on college life.
Those that are mentored also attend events and spend time with their mentors getting to know their professors and other campus resources.
The program is offered to many students, like those who are multilingual or multicultural, as well as first-generation students, Pell Grant recipients, and HUG students, or historically underrepresented groups.
Some of these groups include veterans, people of color, and LGBTQ+ students.
“It’s a wide variety of students… a lot of people fit under these categories,” Karrie Villarreal, a junior mentor in the SIAS program said.
Villareal describes the program as a pre-orientation, or a jump-start to life at Gustavus.
She was in SIAS her first year and has been a mentor for her sophomore and junior year.
“I really liked the Idea of getting to know my surroundings. I knew this campus was predominantly white, so I was initially nervous. But the program brings together similar people going through similar situations,” she said.
The program has been around for over four years and has been increasing in popularity.
“There’s so much about this program that means so much to the people that go through it,” Villarreal said.
During the course of one week, students get to know their mentors, other SIAS students, and their Collegiate Fellows and Gustie Greeters.
“I feel really excited about the different cultures and practices that will be represented on our floor.
I’m also excited about the things we will learn from each other and how we can grow and impact the campus,” Junior Collegiate Fellow Aleah Felton said.
Another Collegiate Fellow mentioned how excited she is to get to know her SIAS residents:
“It’s really fun because it gives you a chance to get to know them before people move in and hear things from a different perspective,” Sophomore Jocelyn Jaimez said.
SIAS students attend many activities to help prepare them for classroom and social situations to come.
They build friendships and get to know different campus resources available, such as the Diversity Center, Career Center, Writing Center, and Peer Education Office.
There are multiple sessions offered throughout the week that teach them about Gustavus, college life, and their new environment.
The program is free to students and sets the foundation for their busy orientation weekend by providing a tour of the campus, Mankato, and St. Peter.
Part of their experience includes getting to know other international students who have moved in early as well.
To finish off their busy week, they celebrate with a small graduation for completing their first week of college.
“The program has changed my life for the better… I love working with underrepresented first-years and helping them feel at home!” Villarreal said.