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Links program benefits freshmen

Friday, September 14, 2007  
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By Wendy Sanders

Hundreds of new students travel to Oklahoma Christian University to gain a college experience each fall. With the help of many students and faculty members, the student life office attempts to give them a new experience involving freshmen links.

Amy Janzen first brought the idea to Oklahoma Christian in 2006, and she now works with Amy Kelly on the program.

“We have 10 guy links and 10 girl links who work with the freshmen,” Janzen said. The idea came from Freed Hardeman in Tennessee. They have a mentoring program, and so we decided to start one here.”

This year there are 552 freshmen who are first-year college students: 263 boys and 289 girls.

The freshmen experience will include the links program along with the other traditional freshmen activities such as freshmen orientation, Earn Your Wings, Freshmen Fanfare and Freshmen Banquet.

“Through different research and programs, we have seen how powerful peer mentoring can be and the impact it can have, especially on students in their freshman year,” Kelly said.

Juniors, Abby Phillips and Ny Potter, are currently serving as freshmen links.

“I was a RA last year, and it was the first year they did it,” Phillips said. “Jenny Gray was a link on part of my hall so we talked about it, and I saw how my girls really liked having Jenny to talk to.”

Phillips has been able to meet with her girls one-on-one, learn their names, and make cookies for them. Her main goal for the first few weeks is to get to know the girls.

“The basic idea is that you are assigned a group of around 30 freshmen, get to know them and befriend them,” Phillips said.

Mentors are encouraged to have two large activities a month for their links and can join together with other links if they would like.

Potter was also a link last year and found it to be a great experience.

“Amy Kelly talked to me about it, and I thought it would be a great cause,” Potter said. “I loved doing it last year so I thought I would do it again.”

Potter was able to plan many activities with her girls last year and is hoping to be able to do the same this year. She enjoys being a freshmen link and takes her job seriously.

“My job is to socialize, have fun and help freshmen,” Potter said. “I get to know them, and I can pray with them or help them with class work and inform them about fun stuff around school.”

Stevie White is also a link in Gunn Henderson and has Jana Savage as one of her freshman.

“She got pizza for us one time and dropped off candy and stuff like that to our rooms.” Savage said. “I also get to talk to her through e-mail sometimes.”

Kelly and Janzen believe the freshmen links and freshmen experience are going very well through this mentoring process.

“We are excited about the results we had from last year. It’s still a work in progress and we’re learning,” Janzen said. “We had a great group of links last year, and now we have another great group. I think it will be an exciting year.”

The student life office plans to accept applicants for this on-campus job opportunity each year. They hope to keep the program running smoothly and plan to improve the process along with the experience.

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