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LINKS students participate in caterpillar exercise on Friday, which taught them teamwork skills

Photographer: George Mauzy


LINKS students enjoying a snack between sessions

Photographer: George Mauzy


Assistant Dean of Students for the Campus Involvement Center Char Kopchick speaks to the students about sexual responsibility on Thursday

Photographer: George Mauzy

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LINKS welcomes newest multicultural students

Pre-matriculation program designed to make students successful

More than 240 first-year Ohio University multicultural students learned, laughed and networked with each other during the 2011 LINKS Pre-Matriculation program, Aug. 31-Sept. 2.

LINKS is a peer mentoring program for first-year multicultural students that fosters friendships and a sense of community. Each student is assigned a peer mentor who is responsible for helping them make a successful academic and social transition to college.

The three-day program began on Wednesday with an afternoon reception in the Baker University Center Ballroom. President Roderick J. McDavis, Vice President for Student Affairs Kent Smith and Vice Provost for Diversity, Access and Equity Brian Bridges were among the speakers who welcomed the students and their parents to campus. Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit and newly named director of the Office for Multicultural Student Access and Retention Cecil Walters also attended the icebreaker event.

"We recruited the best and finest, and they are you," McDavis told the group. "Education is your first job while you are here. We want you to leave with your degree, and if you don't, we have not done our job."

Smith started out his address by giving the students and parents his cell phone number and inviting them to call if they needed anything. He then told the students that there were three things they need to do to have a successful college career – meet their professors, become involved on campus and reach out to other people when they need help.

"Too many students, especially multicultural students, don't ask for help and suffer in silence," Smith said. "Don't suffer in silence. We are here to help you and support you."

During the program, students participated in educational sessions that addressed:
•    perception vs. reality
•    demystifying stereotypes
•    embracing the power of community
•    sexual responsibility
•    sexual violence survivor advocacy
•    what it is to be a "real" man or woman
•    how to overcome academic challenges
•    keys to college success
•    professional networking and branding

The students also enjoyed a family cookout on Wednesday with their parents, a social dance on Thursday, and a scavenger hunt around campus on Friday.

First-year LINKS peer mentor Kayla Hardimon said the activities made it easy for the students to get to know each other and made them less afraid to begin college.

"The activities allow the students to learn a lot and build connections on campus, while having fun," Hardimon said.

Mechanical engineering major Jerome Lacey, a native of Columbus, said the pre-matriculation sessions were informative.

"They taught me new things about proper study habits and accountability and responsibility," Lacey said.

Janiece Rose, a psychology major from Franklinville, N.J., who is a member of the OHIO track and field team, said she appreciated the opportunity to meet other multicultural students early in the year.

"It made me feel less isolated and allowed me to build some relationships," she said. "I also know where I can find help when I need it."

Coordinator for Multicultural Retention Services Brandi Baker said, overall, the programs went well.

"The three days were very compact, but productive," Baker said. "The students seemed to enjoy it, and the parents thought the information we provided was good. They said they could see the valuable services that LINKS provides."