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Freshman Symposium Strengthens Freshman Class

For the second consecutive year, incoming University of St. Thomas freshmen will participate in the Freshman Symposium: Educating Leaders of Faith and Character, a program that introduces students to the University by focusing on St. Thomas’ mission to educate leaders who can think critically, communicate effectively, lead ethically and succeed professionally.

“The overall goal of the course is to teach our first-year students about the strengths of an UST education and to identify how such an education may benefit them personally and professionally,” said Dr. Jo Meier-Marquis, chair of the Psychology Department. She is also a key member of the Freshman Symposium Planning Committee.

The 2011 Freshman Symposium continues to feature the essential components of the program that worked well last year. Each freshman is placed in sections with students who share similar educational interests and goals. Each course section is led by a three-person mentor team, including a faculty, student and staff mentor. The groups meet five times during Freshman Orientation and on Thursdays through Nov. 3.
“The major advantage of having this three-person team is that the faculty member, staff member and student can offer different perspectives and resources to our freshmen students on a host of issues that many first-year students commonly face,” Meier-Marquis said.

Changes to this year’s format include additional activities and workshops with the support of the Mendenhall Achievement Center. An additional community service project with the Houston Food Bank will enable the entire freshman class with the mentor teams to serve the greater Houston community.
Sally Acebo, a sophomore chemistry major from Katy, completed the Freshman Symposium last year. She said the program was beneficial socially and academically.

“I really enjoyed the service learning projects and the speakers,” Acebo said. “I met some of my closest friends during Orientation and Freshman Symposium and I got a jump start on drafting my personal statement of career goals that I will have to submit for medical school.”

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