For professors Jennifer Hansen and Liz Regosin, the First-Year Program (FYP) is about fostering informed citizens through engagement. Their FYP, “Making a Difference: The Role of Active Citizenship in a Democracy,” addresses what a thriving democracy should look like through discussions, projects and volunteer work.
St. Lawrence’s FYP, a unique institution in which first-year students live together and learn together through a shared course, aids in the transition from high school to college. From the mindset that “learning is a shared endeavor,” students enter college in a supportive way and form personal relationships with their FYP professors who are also their advisors, notes Hansen.
“The FYP community makes it easier to assimilate socially and intellectually,” adds Regosin. The culminating project for “Making a Difference,” a congressional reform bill paper and presentation, capitalizes on the FYP’s living and learning objective as students continue their discussions and prepare for their presentations outside of class.
“This course taught me more than just classroom concepts, as it highlighted the importance of civic engagement and being involved,” says Maureen Pellerin ’15.
“Making a Difference” includes a Community-Based Learning experience in which students volunteer weekly at a local institution. “This FYP made me realize that we aren't just students. We’re actually a part of the community,” says Patrick Raley ’14, who volunteered at a local organic farm. --Mary Baucom