Mikayla Miller, an incoming first-year student majoring in Neuroscience, chatted with a table of newfound friends over lunch in the University Dining Hall several days before Bellarmine’s official Move-In Day. They were participating in SHIELD Week, a new pre-orientation for incoming Knights involved in four specific programs:
Knights of Color, Access BU, Navigate First-Gen and
the Bellarmine Student Success Academy. These programs aim to prepare students academically, socially and personally for their journey at Bellarmine, while focusing on a specific identity or area of academic study.
“We know student success and retention rates are higher for those who are actively engaged in these learning communities,” said Dr. Helen-Grace Ryan, vice president for Student Affairs. “Our goal is that SHIELD Week builds upon the skills
our students already possess to create a sense of belonging that we know is essential to success in the first year.”
During the week, participants connect with other students, learn about available resources and get familiar with campus before other
students arrive. They also participate in community engagement with area nonprofits. Most complete a one-credit hour class BU 199: Career Pathways Exploration.
Mikayla, who is a Pioneer Scholar, said SHIELD Week has been very helpful.
“I’m already getting comfortable with campus,” she said.
Sascha Texas, a Nursing major from Louisville, agreed.
“I’ve really liked the experience, it’s helped me get to know people, like my mentor, before everyone gets here,” she said. “I’m glad I chose to be in the Access BU program.”