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New sophomore program helps students prepare for success

Camp Solera students
August 12, 2014

Staff and faculty at Arizona State University’s West campus are ready to welcome freshman and sophomore students Aug. 15 and 16 with new programming added for sophomores.

Sophomore Serve is the latest school year kickoff program designed to help West campus students succeed in the university setting and beyond. Sophomore Serve complements Camp Solera for freshmen, which launched in 2009 for students in West campus colleges, including the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, W. P. Carey School of Business and Barrett, the Honors College.

A four-day experience, Sophomore Serve enables students to gain hands-on service experience, both on and off campus, while they build leadership skills, explore potential careers and give back to the community.

Sophomore Serve begins Aug. 15, the day before freshmen move in, and Sophomore Serve participants will help freshmen with the move-in process on the 16th. Fall classes begin Aug. 21.

Participants in Sophomore Serve will take part in interactive workshops, including “All About Your Strengths,” “Service Near and Far” and “Passion in Action.” On the morning of Aug. 18, they will visit St. Vincent de Paul in Phoenix, gaining familiarity with the organization’s distribution center and community garden.

“Sophomore Serve is part of our new Collegiate Experience initiative at the West campus,” said Cassandra Aska, associate dean of students.

“The Collegiate Experience is about creating your ASU story,” Aska said. “Through a series of unique opportunities designed to help you explore, impact and lead each academic year, you establish a trajectory for your journey that will cement your purpose and who you want to be in our communities, near and far. The signature experiences coupled with each class are intentionally designed to explore, affirm and lead you on your path to success.”

Sophomore Serve also complements New College’s ASU and You program, which requires all students in New College majors to engage in service prior to graduation. ASU and You will pilot this fall 2014 semester. All New College first-year students in the first-year seminar course (IAS191) will take part in the new Innovation Challenge and will be asked to submit a service learning community-based project. The winning project will be implemented by the freshman class of fall 2015.

“It will be an exciting time for students to share their passions and make a positive impact on the local community while engaging with peers, faculty, staff and community members,” said Anne Suzuki, New College’s assistant dean for enrollment management, who has been tapped by New College Dean Marlene Tromp to lead the Experience Team. This group is developing the Experience years for sophomores through seniors at West, based on the First Year Experience program.

ASU and You, and the Collegiate Experience, build on the success of Camp Solera, a three-day experience designed to build class unity through group challenges, introduce freshmen to university and campus resources, and give the newest members of the Sun Devil family a sneak peek into ASU traditions. Camp Solera has consistently earned positive reviews from students since it was implemented five years ago.

“Camp Solera was one of the best times I have had here at ASU,” said Shantel Sanchez-Correa, a senior majoring in social and behavioral sciences through New College, the core college on the West campus. After participating in Camp Solera as a freshman, Sanchez-Correa served as a camp counselor. This year she was one of three students selected to be camp directors.

“I am an out-of-state student from California, and it was hard to leave my family so soon for Camp,” Sanchez-Correa said. “But I made new friends, including one who is now my roommate in our own apartment four years later.”

Camp Solera mixes serious and fun activities, from career exploration and goal-setting exercises to cardboard boat races and a comedy show.

“Students participating in Camp tend to be more engaged with their colleges and assume many leadership roles in students clubs and organizations, as well as colleges and campus departments,” said Sharon Smith, dean of students at the West campus.

“I am a commuter student, and as a freshman I didn’t want to go to Camp Solera because I wasn’t going to know anyone,” said Jessica Covarrubias, a senior psychology major in New College who is also serving as a camp director this year. “But I got up the nerve to go and I had a blast. I made friends at camp who are still my friends now, two years later.”