Seniors provide mentorship and advice to freshmen during pilot Bridge Program

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By Cade Shore

On Friday, Aug. 19, the Counseling Department held its first meeting for the new Freshman Bridge Program, a senior-led organization dedicated to helping this year’s freshmen class integrate into school life, specifically focusing on what it means to be a Cub. A select group of senior leaders had the opportunity to give personal reflections of their time at Loyola as well as share some of their favorite experiences.

Assistant Principal for Student Life Paul Jordan ‘88 is one of the proponents of this organization and helps facilitate the program. He said that the ultimate goal of the program is to make the freshmen feel comfortable in their new environment as soon as possible.

While the first orientation on Wednesday, Aug. 17, focused on the logistics of Loyola, such as how to open a locker or where classes are located, the second orientation stressed that the Bridge Program was an outlet for the underclassmen to seek advice from members of the senior class.

“What we felt was missing from previous orientations was the essence of what this school is and what we do here, what we stand for, and what it means to be a Cub. The Bridge Program is a philosophical approach to Loyola with face-to-face dialogue among the students,” said Jordan.

During the program seniors gave personal insights into their lives at Loyola as well as their hopes for the freshmen in the upcoming school year.

Senior Matthew Franklin said that the active dialogue between the upperclassmen and freshmen is a crucial part in making the program more effective.

“The whole idea of the Bridge Program is to share our ideas, stories and personal lives. It’s really about being able to connect to the freshmen through shared experience, which will hopefully help them integrate into the hectic life of a Loyola student,” said Franklin.

Senior Scott Tamkin was one of the seniors selected to give a speech to the freshmen. He primarily talked about his personal journey through Loyola, specifically focusing on his failures and how he learned to overcome them.

“My favorite part of the event was being able to talk to the whole class and hear their reasons for wanting to come to Loyola,” said Tamkin. “I really hope to guide them through their first year. I was given the opportunity to talk about my ups and downs and what I learned from them.”

Freshman Connor Weiss remembers how each speech had a profound impact on him, especially Tamkin’s lecture. “[Tamkin] drifted from his friends when he came to Loyola, and I have started to do that, but he said it was O.K. because he met a lot of great people here, and I am starting to see exactly what he means. There are some amazing people here,” said Weiss.

Jordan believes that in each Cub’s career at Loyola, he will have a realization of what it truly means to be a man for others, but this epiphany may come in one’s senior year. In order to expedite this process, Jordan and the counseling department have worked to establish this program early on to aid the underclassmen.

Moving forward, the counseling department has scheduled five different homerooms throughout the school year that aim to revisit some of the themes presented at the orientation. The objective of these meetings is to answer any questions the freshmen may still have about Loyola and allow them to reflect on their personal growth since the first day of school. A homeroom scheduled in December, right before the Christmas formal, will have a dedicated time slot to teaching etiquette and gentlemanship.

In terms of what he looks forward to the most for the organization, Jordan hopes to see individual development in each of the freshmen. “I really hope to debrief with them and find out how much the program helped. I talked to some freshmen after the talk, and they said they preferred the second orientation because many of their questions were answered and doubts relieved,” said Jordan.

Weiss said, “The Bridge Program was a great introduction. I’m really looking forward to meeting new people, enjoying my classes and getting to know my teachers. It’s a whole new school for me, and I really want to see all that it has to offer.”

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