Peer mentoring, skill development are key to first-year success at Centre

Published 10:19 am Thursday, January 11, 2024


First-year students at Centre College receive a leg up through Finding Your Centre.

The FYC program, now in its fourth year, pairs incoming students with a first-year mentor and a once-per-week class that helps acclimate students to all aspects of college life.

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“The group projects and presentations in FYC really helped me connect with other students,” said first-year Carson Combs. “FYC helped me the most with my time management — I didn’t really have those skills coming to college.”

Combs, a Marshall, Texas, native and member of the Centre football team, was one of more than 300 first-year students who benefitted from FYC this year, learning things from study and time management tips to the best places to eat around town. Students are also introduced to academic support like the Centre Learning Commons and well-being benefits on campus.

Ansley Bredar ‘13 is the director of first-year academic programming and success, and she noted the importance of fostering connections during the FYC experience.

“Throughout FYC, we take time to reflect on their personal values, identity and sense of purpose,” Bredar said. “By considering our own stories, and being willing to share those stories with others, we learn more about ourselves and each other.”

This year’s FYC was a unique one for Posse Scholar and Boston native Elizabeth Fortress, who returned to the program as a first-year mentor. As a member of the class of 2025, she was part of the first FYC group in 2021.

“My FYC class changed my perspective, I saw it as a place where I could grow myself, where I could be vulnerable,” Fortress said. “I didn’t need to know everything, I didn’t need to be all figured out.”

Bredar is grateful for mentors like Fortress who met weekly through fall term to help plan lessons and activities for students, as well as helping with orientation and summer onboarding for first-year students.

“Because of (my FYC experience), I wanted to serve as a bridge for other incoming students to be able to find their place,” Fortress said. “FYC has taught me leadership and has helped me see the diversity in our community.”

Three members of the Centre community spoke at the FYC end-of-semester celebration: Vice President for Student Success Pam Baughman, Senior Mentor Liaison and Student Success Specialist Jessica Chisley, and Associate Professor of Religion Matthew Pierce.

“Our panel of speakers from the campus community related their own experiences and connected to the themes from the FYC course — identity development, community and belonging, and goal-setting — and reaffirmed the layers of support we have to help students flourish during their time at Centre,” Bredar said.