Honors Launches New First-Year Orientation Experience

First year students enjoy a rest after a good day of climbing.

This fall, the university initiated FYS 101, a semester-long First-Year Seminar that engages all first-year and transfer students in guided conversations, experiential activities, and in-depth course materials exploring concepts such as identity, socialization, interdependence, discrimination, and cultural competency, to facilitate their transition to Syracuse University. With the introduction of this extensive course, many first-year anchor courses were incorporated into the curriculum.

The Honors Program similarly redesigned its required first-year seminar, HNR 100, into a more comprehensive, shared learning experience that extends beyond the walls of a classroom. Karen Hall, Assistant Director of the Honors Program, imagined and initiated the experiential orientation program. In small groups, guided by peer mentors, first-year students attend required events, such as a Welcome Dinner, a shared reading of the essay “You Are Your Best Thing” by Tarana Burke and Brene Brown, and the Syracuse Stage production of Eureka Day by Jonathan Spector. Students also attended informal conversations with faculty, who shared the origins and evolution of their research and academic careers. The Honors Program is grateful to Professors Jean-Francois Bedard (School of Architecture), Rick Burton (Falk College), Peppie Calvar (College of Visual and Performing Arts), Can Isik (College of Engineering and Computer Science), Ramesh Raina (College of Arts and Sciences), Steve Sawyer (School of Information Studies), Minet Schindehutte (Whitman School) and George Theoharis (School of Education) for dedicating an evening to Honors students. At their own choosing, students then gather for shared experiences throughout the semester, which have included everything from rock climbing to a guided tour of the current exhibit at the SU Art Museum, “Each One, Inspired: Haudenosaunee Art Across the Homelands.” Students reflect on their experiences through written assignments and receive feedback and answers to their questions from their peer mentors.

The program’s objectives are to create a sense of belonging within the Honors community and to build early awareness of the many resources and opportunities available both on campus and in our surrounding community. The goal is to inspire Honors students to dream big and dive deep as they embark on a new, adventurous chapter in life!

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