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Blue Hen Buddies

Graphic by Ivan Avila

Program pairs upper-class volunteers with first-year students for advice and mentoring

Navigating the first semester of college can be challenging — especially when living off campus and taking virtual classes. That’s why the University of Delaware Office of Orientation and Transition Programs created Blue Hen Buddies.

“The purpose of the Blue Hen Buddies program is to connect our new Blue Hens with experienced members of the flock so that they have a source of connection, encouragement and a place to check in with any questions or concerns,” said Christian Williams, program coordinator of Extended Orientation and Transition Programs.

The mentorship program pairs first-year students with upperclass student leaders to help ease their transition during the fall 2020 semester. Beginning in September, BHB volunteers started reaching out to their younger partners to answer questions and offer advice and experience.

“Our continuing students have learned what it takes to be a successful student and have used many of the resources we have available to aid in that success,” said Williams. “So, who better to impact knowledge and wisdom about the transition into college than them?”

The minimum expectation is a monthly check-in email, but Buddies are encouraged to maintain contact via text, Instagram, GroupMe or other social platforms as agreed upon between students. Volunteers will also check in with a program adviser to offer updates and receive conversation starters as needed.

Williams said the goals of the new program are to help the Class of 2024 build relationships and create a sense of belonging during an unusual semester, while providing current students with a low-pressure leadership opportunity that allows them to support their peers.

“We have found ourselves in uncertain times that have likely amplified concerns for our new students around the transition into life at UD,” Williams said. “We want to make sure no new Blue Hen feels like they are going at it alone, and remind them that they have at least one connection to turn to if they need advice or direction in this first semester of the UD journey, regardless of where they’re studying this semester.”

With thousands of new first-year students enrolled this fall, older volunteers will most likely communicate with multiple students to make a lasting impact.

“The ideal BHB volunteer candidate is a Blue Hen who has learned how to be successful as a UD student,” Williams said. “Established RSO leader? Yes. Have internship or student research experience? Great. Not currently involved on campus, but looking for your first opportunity? No problem; you have insight that would be more than valuable for a new student.”

If you are interested in becoming a Blue Hen Buddy, email otp@udel.edu for more information.

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