Creating connections in First-Year Experience

Darrell Hunter is the LAS Staff Spotlight this month.From LAS Liftoff to seminar courses taught throughout the academic year, Darrell Hunter II helps incoming students adjust to campus life through community building events and programs. He is the director of first-year experience with the Student Academic Affairs Office and has played an instrumental role in creating new programs including We Got Each Other and My Auntie's House.

Describe your responsibilities.
My responsibilities include ensuring a smooth transition for our first-year and transfer students to the University of Illinois and the College of LAS. Furthermore, I want students to feel like they belong in college, which includes assisting them in making connections with peers that contribute to social and personal well-being. This starts with our LAS Liftoff welcoming event and continues through our seminar courses, LAS 101-Design Your College Experience and LAS 102-Transfer Advantage. We offer 96 sections of the courses, each taught by undergraduate interns who serve as peer mentors.

What do you remember of your first visit to campus?
The weather was colder than (my previous residence) in Ohio, but the snow brightened the campus. Specifically, the Quad!

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy making a difference in our students' lives by providing resources that will assist them in making the most of their college experience. Additionally, leading the FYE team, which includes my assistant, six TAs, and 100 interns. I truly enjoy watching them grow as they hone their leadership skills and become better individuals.

Do you have a favorite memory or project from your role with your unit?
My favorite memory so far is the development of the We Got Each Other program. We Got Each Other is a program in the College of LAS that supports black and Latino men. The program aims to provide a safe space for students to talk about their experiences on campus and help them navigate college by providing mentorship from faculty and staff of color. 

What is the best part of your workday?
It's interacting with my team. They are a great group!

Editor's note: This LAS Staff Spotlight profile is part of a series that features College of LAS staff and the important work they do to support units across the college. Visit here to learn more.

News Source

Kayleigh Rahn