Living learning communities, also known as LLCs, were created this year for first generation freshmen to live together in Nelson and Mckinzie halls, where they have access to academic and emotional support.
Diarron Morrison, resident director of Mabee Hall, introduced the idea of forming the LLCs for first generation students to Residence Life, and he said beneficial LLCs are for students to build community.
“Living learning communities are a great opportunity for people to connect around some sort of similarity,” Morrison said. “I think we should structure relationships through our likenesses, not our differences.”
Morrison has been a resident director for two years and said his interactions with first generation students prompted him create a program to help them.
“I came in contact with a lot of first generation college students last year, people who absolutely amazed me with the things they could do, but they didn’t know they had resources here until later on,” Morrison said. “We know that some first generation students can have a different experience. Why don’t we let them experience it together?”
Students in the LLCS now have their own cornerstone class, tutors and a resident assistant to help guide and support them.
The cornerstone class is taught by Scott Self, assistant professor of core curriculum, and he said this program is a continuation of programs ACU has been creating since 1987 to help first generation students transition into college life easier.
“The cornerstone class has the same materials and the same objectives as other classes, we just contextualize information for first generation students,” Self said. “We as a faculty can help demystify the college experience for them.”
Self said the group’s LLC is monitored to make sure students are not feeling isolated and are positively benefiting from the community, as they decide whether to implement LLCs for other groups in the future.
Gracie Showers, resident assistant of Nelson hall and junior nursing major from Argyle, Texas, said her experience with her residents so far has been positive.
“I just never thought about a hall full of first generation girls, but this is awesome,” Showers said. “I think there is a need to have somebody step in and walk alongside girls who might not be as confident going to school.”
Showers said she is forming a connection with her residents despite differing backgrounds.
“They have really shown me what it’s like to step into brokenness and messy situations, and I turn around and think, ‘You guys are being my RA in a lot of ways,'” Showers said. “They have been really intentional and genuine about getting to know me, which is really nice.”
Showers said one of her missions is for her residents to grow throughout this year.
“As an RA, my goal for them is to form genuine relationships with people in their hall,” Showers said. “As someone who cares for them, my goal is for them to do well in their classes and to take advantage of all of the resources around campus.”