A job offer and the real story behind SEM 100

I have a job offer for you, but first: a quick story.

This time last year, I was a senior working to finish up my degree in political science. I was a relatively middle-of-the-road student; not particularly well-known outside of my close friends and few niche groups. And like many almost-graduates, I didn’t really know what the next chapter would bring.

Then, on a seemingly normal Wednesday morning, I opened up my email and there was the campus-wide message from the Chancellor that would change my life.

Immediately, the campus went into a whirlwind of outrage, forums, and discussions. I was so engaged in listening and learning from the greater campus community. So I kept seeking out people to talk to. I confided in my close friends. I would overhear the murmurings at Starbucks and ask strangers about what they thought. I found out who the university leaders on campus were and I reached out to all the ones I could.

I had the chance to sit down with Amanda Nicholson, the dean of student success. She told me about this program in development, what is now known as SEM 100 or the First-Year Experience initiative. I interned with the team over the summer and was offered a job to help coordinate the implementation of the program.

So here’s the part where I offer you a job.

SEM 100’s main goal is to introduce first year students to the communication skills, resources, and nuanced understanding of identity necessary to integrate into the campus community. To do this, new students engage in a five-week discussion series led by an SU staff/faculty/administrator (lead facilitator) and a current undergraduate (peer facilitator) around a shared reading.

There are 200 sections and each one will have a peer facilitator who is committed to improving the culture here on campus. Other institutions have similar programs on a voluntary basis, but the fact that this is a paid position ($15/hr) proves how much the University is willing to invest in students supporting students.

Over the past eight months, I’ve had the privilege of working hundreds of students, faculty, staff, and administrators who are relentlessly dedicated to making this campus better. Now, more than ever, I’ve never been so optimistic about the future of this University.

Even with some criticism the First-Year Experience/SEM 100 has received, to me, that’s a clear signal how much people care about what we are trying to do. I’ve personally read every single piece of feedback from news articles to the thousands of course evaluations, and I can guarantee that the constructive criticisms are being taken seriously with a goal to improve the course.

Here’s your chance to be a part of that change. I’d love it if you applied to be a peer facilitator.

Jessie Santillan ’18