The Senior Bridge Team Program, created last year by Dean of Men Daniel Annarelli, Assistant Principal for Student Life Dr. Paul Jordan ’88 and the Counseling Department, teaches incoming freshmen the meaning of being a Cub and also provides important leadership skills and abilities for future endeavors.
The Senior Bridge Team, an extension of the Big Brother Program, provides firsthand experiences of life as a Cub to the freshmen. In addition, freshmen are exposed to several speakers and breakout sessions hosted by both seniors and staff members. The first meetings consist of interesting topics including the diversity at Loyola, the opportunities available to students and the introduction of the Grad-at-Grad mentality.
Dr. Jordan, who assists in coordinating senior leadership trainings, said the most fulfilling experience of the program is seeing “seniors who are willing to give up a couple of days of their summer to help out their fellow Cubs.” The seniors are specifically chosen by the counseling department because of their participation in various activities and clubs at Loyola.
Expecting that the introduction of the Senior Bridge Program will strengthen student relations in the future, Dr. Jordan guarantees that the administration is “doing more to prepare [freshmen]and will scrutinize the program annually to ensure that the goals are being met.”
Freshman Sean Adami, interested in becoming part of the Bridge Team in the future, said, “The seniors have taught us that good time management and involvement in school activities will help in the long run for college.” Moreover, Adami emphasizes that the seniors’ experiences and input concerning academic courses are helpful for the next four years at Loyola.
Freshman Michael Ishak, enlightened by the Bridge Team sessions, said, “I believe I benefitted from each session and I discovered what I would be interested to get involved in at school.”
Counselor Gina Liberotti, who enjoys the meetings with her Bridge Team, said, “The Bridge Team serves as a more meaningful point of reference between seniors and freshmen.”
Counselor Kelly Farland, who also leads a Senior Bridge Team, noted the many benefits of older student leaders leading and welcoming the freshmen. Farland said, “For me personally, I look to the Senior Bridge Team [to help]make the message I send to the freshmen legitimate. If one of [the freshmen’s]peers tells them to do something, like the seniors, it means something to them.”
Farland, who hopes to also build confidence in his seniors, added, “The Senior Bridge Team members and I talk about how to deal with different situations at Loyola and how to be positive about that stuff [as a part of the]learning process for these guys.”
Senior Luke Minck, who is under the leadership of Farland, said, “We tell stories about our experience with Loyola, give them advice for how to meet new people, and most importantly, make them feel comfortable at Loyola. I am honored to be a Bridge Leader because it gives me the chance to make someone’s freshmen year at Loyola a lot more enjoyable.”
Counselor Thomas Gallagher, who is excited to be advising a group of optimistic seniors of his own, said that he asks his seniors to talk about what they might have done differently from their current perspective.
In addition, Gallagher said, “I hope that the freshmen see the value of meeting with seniors to talk about any issues they may have experienced and how these issues were resolved.”
The Bridge Team covers almost every aspect of Loyola life, from academics to schoolwide events. Consequently, counselors select a wide variety of seniors with different backgrounds to provide a wide range of information. Farland, for example, carefully chose his group in order to ensure a wide variety of student backgrounds and interests.
Counselors contend that the Freshman Bridge Program provides a unique resource for underclassmen and, although still in its infancy, counselors hope to make the program an ingrained Loyola tradition.