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Program bridges relationship between professors, students

December 10, 2009

First year students have the opportunity to get to know their professors better with the First Year Experience “Out to Lunch” program.

The program was created to give students a way to become more connected with their professors.

“The program gives students a chance to interact with their professor outside of class,” FYE Student Manager Mike Vanselow said.

A few students have taken advantage of the new program, but FYE hopes that more will participate.

FYE Director Sarah Egerstrom said that less than a dozen students have taken advantage of the program. She said she encourages others to not be afraid to approach their professors.

“The students who have done it had enjoyable experiences,” she said. “They said they now feel more comfortable asking questions in class and approaching their professor for help.”

The program offers a unique situation where students are able to share a meal and conversation with professors outside of the classroom setting.

FYE New Student and Family Program Coordinator Maggie Funk said the purpose of this program is to promote faculty and students interacting outside the classroom.

“This program provides students and faculty with an opportunity to connect and discuss topics from class,” she said. “It also gives the students a chance to learn about careers in that field of study and future internships and employment.”

First year student Nene Eze has participated in this program and said she had a great experience.

“I took my advisor out to lunch and we had a lot to discuss,” she said. “It was really nice having at least one hour of her time devoted to answering my questions.”

Suzy Rogers was taken out to lunch by one of her business law students and said she really enjoyed the event.

“It was a good opportunity to learn more about her life and experiences,” she said. “I also discovered that the cafeteria has much better food than we got when I was in college.”

Psychology professor Todd Wilkinson had the opportunity to go out to lunch with his entire first-year learning community class. 

“It was a good opportunity to spend time with the students,” he said. “It was unstructured and we were able to talk about things other than school.”

He said he liked their energy and enthusiasm and was happy to have the experience outside of class to engage with them. 

Egerstrom said most of the students who have participated in this program are connected to the FYE office.

“We want to get more students informed of this program so they are able to take advantage of it,” she said.

First-year student Jessica Peterson said she did not want to participate at first but is glad that she did.  She added that the program would be very beneficial if more students knew it existed. 
Peterson also suggested that each first-year student should be required to participate in the program. 

Eze added that professors should be made more aware of this program so they will not be surprised when a student approaches and asks them out to lunch.

Some students may be a bit intimidated at the idea of asking a professor out to lunch, but students who have participated said it was not as bad as they thought.

Eze said she would suggest students take the bold step and ask.

“It doesn’t hurt to try,” she said, “and you will be glad that you did.”