What You Need to Know About the New University College Fellowship Program

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Published October 4, 2019
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The Montclarion
Josh Mariscal joins three fellows for a group photo. Photo courtesy of Josh Mariscal

Starting this fall, the new University College freshman class embarks on a new chapter. The University College student seminar lectures are now taking a shift in a more welcoming environment.

Since University College is new to Montclair State University, they are taking a different approach in guiding those who are “pre-major,” previously referred to as undeclared. In the past year, they offered the Peer Mentorship Program in order to aid undeclared students with assistance.

Professor Swain Sanchez believes that this new program will help students reach their goals.

“[The University College Fellowship Program] is focused on helping students not only transition into college but also support the goals of University College, which is supporting our pre-major students,” Sanchez said.

The University College Fellowship Program currently consists of about 60 fellows in total, 55 of which are the student success fellows. Fellows help guide and push pre-major freshmen in the right direction.

Five of the fellows work in an advisement capacity and work with students on a peer-on-peer academic advising level. This job can be found in the office of University College, located in the library.

The combination of fellows and lectures provides guidance and resources while also creating a healthy community within the classrooms.

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Liliana Esmail poses outside of the Center for Environmental and Life Sciences building. Amanda Brown | The Montclarion

Liliana Esmail is a sophomore majoring in molecular biology and Arabic. Transitioning from her role as an orientation leader, Liliana discovered the opportunity of becoming a fellow, which also allows her to pursue her passion for leadership.

“For me to be a part of [those who make] an impact on the students, I really thought it was something I would look forward to,” Esmail said.

Being a pre-major herself, Liliana felt thrilled to be a part of this new transition in University College.

Miguel Rodriguez is a sophomore pre-majoring in communications as well as a student success fellow.

“I feel like we joined because we want to give the freshmen something that we didn’t have,” Rodriguez said. “More of a support system, more of a one-on-one type of attention.”

In the past, Rodriguez has interacted with incoming freshmen. He’s been a Red Hawk for a day and has done overnight stays, as well as give personalized tours around campus.

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Amani Alqaralleh hopes to guide pre-major students in the right direction. Photo courtesy of Yennifer Rodriguez

Amani Alqaralleh is a senior majoring in business administration with a concentration in marketing. She also helps out with this University College program.

“It’s already hard enough for freshmen to navigate through their next four years in a whole different type of environment, particularly with pre-major students,” Alqaralleh said. “It’s like another added pressure to it, so if I can help them get out of that funk or help guide them in the right direction, like that’s gonna make me happy.”

Being a transfer student from two previous institutions herself, the “new student” experience is the reason behind why Alqaralleh has such a drive to give back to her community.

Josh Mariscal, a senior majoring in communication studies, is also one of people among the student success fellows. With his constant devotion to numerous clubs and leadership positions on campus, this “new” job was nothing new to him.

“I saw this as the natural next step for me throughout the years here at Montclair State,” Mariscal said. “I kept on taking more and more positions such as this [one], whether it [was] CAMP (Commuter Assistance Mentorship Program) mentorship, working with WAM (Weekends at Montclair) or orientation. It all just lead up to me having a passion for students, and so I just saw this as the next position for me.”

For some, trying something new never gets old. This gives students on campus an opportunity to give back and gain leadership roles themselves.

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