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Creating a sense of community: the first-years’ perspective

The first few months of the college experience should be an exciting time, a time when students leave home and adjust to college life, sign up for activities they are passionate about and meet tons of new people. 

But this year, the usual events that create a sense of community among incoming first-years are either canceled, held virtually or delayed. So how will the graduating class of 2024 make friendships that could last a lifetime?

Miami plays a big role in getting students connected. Whether through a Zoom class or other virtual events, students can still learn about each other no matter where they currently are. 

“The staff has been utilizing breakout rooms during Zoom calls, so I’ve been able to meet students through that,” said first-year theatre major Liz King. 

Upperclassmen might see the breakout sessions as a normal part of class, but first-years see it as an opportunity to get to know some of the other students.

Additionally, first-years have been taking advantage of social media. There are multiple Miami University Class of 2024 accounts on Instagram, Facebook and other platforms. 

“[It] helps students connect and form friendships before we can meet in person in class,” Niko Galvis, a first year supply chain and operations management major, said. “Students are able to have little introductory posts made about them on some Miami Class of 2024 accounts, and this helps with people meeting each other.” 

Without the relevant technology and social media use in society, keeping in touch with one another would be much more difficult.

Not only have students been interacting through social media, but their parents have organized ways in which their children can get connected. In fact, some have put together socially distant gatherings for Miami students who live near each other. 

Kelly Hill, a first-year majoring in speech pathology and audiology, said she was committed to meeting other Miamians despite the restrictions in place.  

“Since I am coming from California, I didn’t really know anyone going to Miami from here, so I really wanted to plan something for us to all meet and connect. I feel more comfortable with moving to campus now that I know some people and can reach out to them when needed,” Hill said. 

No matter if they return to campus or not, they no longer feel alone, and it makes the transition to the college experience smoother.

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Of course, most first-years know this is not ideal and would much rather be on campus. But still, the students of the Class of 2024 are developing temporary solutions to their situation and are determined to get as much out of their college experience as they can. 

While currently spread out all over the world, incoming first-years still understand the importance of being connected to their Miami family and are finding multiple avenues to accomplish this goal.

As a first-year student myself, I have been surprised with how many people I have met remotely. 

Since on-campus classes do not start until September, I assumed that I would not meet any other students until then. However, this is not true.

In fact, I have met a lot of other Miamians through class and by joining clubs such as The Miami Student. Whether I’m talking to editors, co-writers or people being interviewed, all of them have been extremely helpful, friendly and warm-hearted.

Whenever I return to campus, I will feel at ease knowing that the people I have met so far have been encouraging and accepting. I will also find comfort in knowing that all first-years are encountering similar drawbacks.

While Miami students are currently separated, we will be together in person soon and the sense of belonging will be even stronger.