As the new academic year begins, Treveccca Nazarene University is celebrating the tenth anniversary of the University’s program for first-year students. For the past decade, the LINK program has helped integrate new students into the Trevecca community through activities and events.
LINK, formerly known as LEAP, has come a long way since Dr. Tom Middendorf, who now serves at the associate provost and dean of academic affairs, began the program in 2007. Middendorf envisioned creating a lasting program that generations of students could benefit from.
“Tom thought it would be a great idea if Trevecca would establish a program that was meaningful and lasting for the freshman class,” said Jeffrey Swink, coordinator of assessment and retention for the Center for Leadership, Calling and Service. “So, he created the LEAP classes. They’ve been in existence ever since because he created something that was very unique, strong, academic, and something students would enjoy being in.”
Former students who’ve participated in the LINK program have come to enjoy it so much, that they choose to invest in new students as peer mentors.
“My freshman year was a hard year for me,” said Mallory Mills, Trevecca senior and a LINK peer mentor. “My peer mentor helped me out a whole lot and just made me feel good. It was always nice to know I had somebody who loved me and cared for me in a sense. I wanted to be that person to more freshmen.”
While Trevecca’s LINK program has gone through many changes over the years—and a few name changes—the program’s core values have never wavered.
“Trevecca’s core values are leadership and service, and it’s natural that the entire LINK and Adventure LINK class is about building leaders and servants,” Swink said. “So, every day I work with students with the idea that we want you to be not only leaders and servants but also servant leaders.”
Freshmen aren’t the only ones that get to experience the fun of LINK. Last year, Trevecca officials included transfer students for the first time, helping them to more easily transition into the Trevecca community.
“My goal in being the transfer mentor is to provided unity and safe place among the transfers, as well as helping them integrate into the rest of the undergraduate class,” said Emily Kriner, Trevecca senior and transfer peer mentor. “I hope that they feel as home at Trevecca as I do.”
Swink says that the program, with its emphasis on community service and leadership, helps students to become more involved while at Trevecca and in their own communities later on.
“There was an article that was written for the Treveccan and basically what it said was that these students all during their college life sought out leadership and servant jobs,” Swink said. “That’s what I have seen year after year, these students reach out to the community they reach out to the churches, business, jobs, internships. The program just impacts their lives throughout their four years here.”
Kriner says she can already see the same trend beginning with transfer students.
“I would say that the number of students that was involved in the transfer LINK group last year are significantly more involved this upcoming year,” she said. “We have one transfer who is now the chaplain for SOMA among many other things.”
Swink is proud of LINK’s first 10 years and looking forward to how it will continue to help students build lasting relationships with each other, the University and the community for many years to come. He says that LINK’s record of creating successful students has even exceeded the expectations of the faculty.
“I think there’s no doubt about how LINK has made a wonderful aspect in the church, school, community and business,” Swink said. “I think it has been a wonderful opportunity for people to see how our freshmen invest in themselves from freshmen to when they finish as seniors.”