Today@Sam Article

Student Succeeds With Help Of First-Year Experience

Aug. 11, 2017
SHSU Media Contact: Lane Fortenberry

Editor’s note: Every summer, sophomores share some of their experiences and offer advice to SHSU’s newest cohort of freshman. In her “First-Year Series” discussion, Mikayla Bilbo shares how joining the First-Year Experience organization helped her connect with the right people to help her succeed.


Dear Future Bearkats,

As an incoming freshman, I was terrified of what was in front of me. 

Not only did I have to leave my home, but transferring from my hometown high school where everyone knows everyone else, to a large campus where I knew no one, was completely nerve-wracking.

During freshman orientation, I was lucky enough to find the First-Year Experience table. Joining this organization was definitely the best decision that I could make as an incoming freshman at Sam.

Within this organization, I was put into a specific cohort that included people who had the same goal as me—becoming a teacher. With this group, we were put into certain classes together in order to help one another. 

One class that stood out the most was University 1301. It was created to help freshmen gain better study habits and skills and become more involved in the Huntsville community, as well as make many different connections that you may not be able to make without the class.

Through this class, we had to volunteer within the community, and this truly was a blessing. Volunteering truly helped me become a well-rounded person and also helped me open my eyes to those in need in my community. Because of this class, I also became a better studier. The habits I learned, as well as the tips I got from the class, truly helped me in the long run. 

Lastly, it also helped me gain connections with people I would have never even met. I was able to become linked with a librarian who is designated to help me whenever I need to find sources for a research paper, help on the library website, or even when I just need to find a good book.

I also became connected with the dean of the College of Education, Stacey Edmonson. I was able to interview her while working on a research paper, and now she remembers my name and I am able to go to her with anything I need.

This class truly was an amazing tool for my freshman year and I am so glad that I was able to be in it. Joining a Freshman Learning Community also allowed me to make amazing friends, join clubs and gave me tools that I will be able to use in my future.

I truly believe that this class helped me make the College of Education Dean’s List, as well as make a 3.75 GPA. Freshman year was a blast and I owe it all to my Freshman Learning Community!

Mikayla Bilbo

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