The Georgetown University Student Association expanded its “What’s A Hoya?” Initiative, which is in its second year, by adding discussion sections after the presentations and increasing the number of student participants.
The program, designed by students, administrators, faculty and resource centers, provides freshmen with information and advice on different aspects of life on campus. The topics for each presentation this year are the same as last year, and cover
“Mentorship,” “Cura Personalis” and “Community in Diversity.”
According to GUSA Deputy Chief of Staff and “What’s A Hoya?” Senior Coordinator Megan Murday (SFS ’15), the planning team decided to keep the three topics static because they reflect Georgetown’s Jesuit identity.
“When we picked these last year we were looking at what Jesuit values are central to our identity as a university and we picked those three,” Murday said.
Each session is around 90 minutes long and includes presentations, student panels and an added feature, student discussion groups. Students who participate in the program will receive additional points toward housing selection in the spring. In order to receive credit, students must attend one or more sessions and complete a post-program reflection. Each session that a student attends awards him or her a 0.10 increase in housing points.
According to Murday, students who participated in the program last year expressed a desire for group discussion.
“[Students said the] most engaging one was the ‘Community and Diversity’ module because it was more of a conversation and a discussion,” Murday said, “It was more intimate instead of just a lecture style.”
In response, GUSA incorporated time for smaller discussion sections led by student leaders and professionals in the topic.
According to Murday, these smaller groups allow students to air their opinions more freely and learn from their peers.
“The idea behind the program is to give freshman students access to the resources, to the discussions that happen on campus but don’t get the air time, aren’t as popular maybe as some of the other things that we have access to all the time,” Murday said. “We are hoping that it is more of a conversation and that students can start to build relationships with those people that can help them throughout their time at Georgetown.”
Olivia Gasser (COL ’18) attended the mentorship-themed session and small group discussion.
“My small group touched upon spiritual mentorship and not until then had I really realized how much of an impact a spiritual mentor can have on somebody,” Gasser said. “My discussion leader was a great example of how much a spiritual mentor can support and influence somebody.”
According to Murday, the team of seven coordinators selected students leaders that had peer mentorship experience and were representative of different groups within the campus community to serve as mentors.
Brianne Griffith (COL ’18) also attended the mentorship session and said that she enjoyed meeting with older peer mentors.
“Freshman need to get themselves more involved in the job search so they are more comfortable for junior and senior year and finding a mentor is a great way to do that, which this program really showcased,” Griffith said,
According to Murday, about 700 freshmen signed up for the first mentorship-themed session. Last year, attendance at all three modules combined was somewhere between 500 and 600 students.
“We’ve had speakers that spoke last year and then came to this module this academic year and have said they have also appreciated it being more dynamic and more of a conversation,” Murday said. “I think it’s been much more successful this year.”
Murday said feedback from this year’s programming has been positive thus far.
“A lot of speakers have told me that students have stayed afterwards to ask more questions, have followed up with them via email,” Murday said.“That’s really what we want students to get out of this, a personal relationship with those speakers. [We want them to] feel like they have resources at Georgetown that they can reach out to, so I think it’s been very successful so far.”
The last “Mentorship” session took place Tuesday night in the ICC auditorium. The “Cura Personalis” sessions will be held on Nov. 16 at 2 p.m., Nov. 17 at 8 p.m., and Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. All are in the ICC auditorium. The dates for the “Community in Diversity” sessions will be released in January.