Esther Yang, Larissa Cioci, Catie Lenover, Amarice Manzerolle, Tony VoThe Natively Creative team won a trophy as the top performers in the Transform program. From left: Transform community leader Esther Yang mentored first-year students Larissa Cioci, Catie Lenover, and Amarice Manzerolle, pictured here with co-ordinator Tony Vo.

Program prepares students for university experience

During summer 2022, the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (FAHSS) launched Transform, its school readiness program for first-year students coming directly from high school.

Incoming students met in person or online weekly over nine weeks and participated in a series of fun interactive exercises that gave them similar experiences to being in class — conducting research, taking mock tests, and working on team projects. At the same time, the program gave upper-year student mentors an opportunity to gain leadership experience.

The program is coordinated by Tony Vo, student experience co-ordinator in FAHSS, and his team of upper-year student leaders, the Transform Community Leaders. Throughout the summer, the leaders created transition activities for their mentor sessions, answered questions from their mentees, and learned leadership skills.

On Sept. 1, the Transformation Conference gave participants the chance to hear from president Robert Gordon and attend presentations by partnering campus offices. At the end of the conference, the group “Natively Creative” won the Transform Trophy Cup as the top scoring team.

“I wouldn’t say that I am a shy person, but I am not a confident person. I couldn’t speak in front of large groups before Transform, but now I have confidence in my speaking abilities that I didn’t know I had,” says Mariam Morra, a third-year psychology student.

“Everything about this experience was a positive one. Being a student who started their university experience during the start of COVID-19, Transform has gotten me more involved on campus, made me become more informed about our university, and helped me make new friends and connections.”

Vo touts the program’s benefits for students at every level.

“Although Transform was created to help our first-year students with their school readiness and preparation, the program was also designed to help our student leaders develop their skills,” he says. “Leadership is one of the fundamental traits of FAHSS and providing student leaders with these opportunities so that they can grow and develop themselves is a core mission in this faculty.”