Freshman mentoring group looking for applicants

03-17-09 Freshman Resedential life
Journalism freshman Beatrice Velazquez and speech and hearing science freshman Brittani Garcia talk Monday evening outside Hayden residence hall. The upperclassman students in the First Year Residence Experience Fellows program seek to help freshmen adjust to college life. (Nikolai De Vera/The State Press)
Published On:
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
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A group of 29 upperclassmen who aim to make first-year students feel more at home is looking for applicants for this coming fall.

First Year Residence Experience Fellows is a group of upperclassman students who live and interact with freshmen living in first-year residence halls, said Jennifer Sorenson, senior coordinator for FYRE. Though the deadline has passed, applications are still being accepted online at http://asu.edu/studentaffairs/lss/fyre.html until all positions are filled.

“The FYRE Fellow position is a live-in position intended to bridge the gap between academics and living in the residence halls,” Sorenson said. “[FYRE Fellows] are looking for people who are confident with themselves and can get students excited about being on campus.”

The position is a full-year commitment, and applicants will be chosen through a process that includes providing a resume, answering a number of essay questions and going through an interview process, she said.

The FYRE Fellows group was started last fall and has been working with freshmen through events and workshops to promote unity and connect students with others, said accounting junior Autumn Chung, a FYRE Fellow.

“[FYRE Fellows] want to connect students to other students so they feel like they’re home. Since ASU is such a big school, you get lost sometimes,” Chung said.

Also, FYRE Fellows act as a resource for students who are having difficulty with classes or friends, Chung said, but a key goal is “to help freshman students have a successful transition from high school to college.”

To make students feel comfortable living on campus, FYRE Fellows sponsor a number of academic workshops and events throughout the year, including FYREside Chats — open forums where students can speak their opinions, Chung said. Each chat has a different topic and invites students to connect with others, she said.

“One person leads the event, and it’s open from there,” Chung said. “We utilize the conversation for self-growth and self-expression to help learn what is going on in our society and in different cultures.”

Leah Paraso, a FYRE Fellow, said she applied for the position last year because she wanted to help other students. Now, she loves being part of a group that makes a difference in others’ lives, she said.

“For me, I really like the fact that FYRE Fellows give [students] somebody they can relate to, someone who has been through all of this,” Paraso said.

The communications senior said she has had many personal experiences with students that have made the position rewarding. In one instance, she said she was able to help a freshman student find his niche.

“A student came to me and said ‘I didn’t know it was possible to be this lonely,’ and it broke my heart,” Paraso said. “I brought the student around to different FYRE events and introduced him to people. Now when I see him, he’s always with friends.”

Phil Matheny, a FYRE Fellow living in Manzanita, said he too feels that helping students through transition is one of the most worthwhile parts of the job.

Matheny, a film media senior, said he remembers meeting a girl who had a horrible first day of classes last fall.

“I knocked on a door to introduce myself, and the girl who opened the door was crying,” Matheny said. He said he was able to introduce the student to other freshmen and help her make friends.

Through his experiences as a FYRE Fellow, Matheny said he has learned a lot about himself and about others.

“I really feel like I’ve made a difference for the people in my dorm,” he said.

Reach the reporter at abigail.gilmore@asu.edu.