Adding to the many resources that first year students have on campus, the Cub Connector program provides an additional layer of student support from staff members who have interacted professionally with students in the past but do not necessarily have student-facing jobs.
The Cub Connectors hail from all over the College and plan to enlist a plethora of different strategies to provide first years on their associated floors with support throughout their transition to Bowdoin.
“Last weekend, I bought [my first years] a bunch of snacks,” Jonathan Macat ’16, a Cub Connector and Upward Bound coordinator, said. “I’d like to do a big floor dinner [where] we all cook together in the same space. I really like food and connecting with people through food.”
Upward Bound Operations Administrator Keith Reinemann, another Cub Connector, noted that first year students usually feel most out of place in Brunswick during the fall semester, which is often the best time to experience the outdoors and explore town.
“I feel a lot of pride in the [Brunswick] community, the town and showing kids what’s off the beaten track,” Reinemann said. “Hopefully, we can do it through the Cub Connector program.”
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Whitney Hogan ’07 and Director of the First-Year Experience Melissa Quinby ’91 are facilitating the Cub Connector program.
“First year students are the newest members of the Bowdoin community, and we know that they are in the midst of a big transition during their initial days, weeks and months on campus,” Quinby wrote in an email to the Orient. “We developed the Cub Connector program to add one more critical layer of support to the transition to Bowdoin and provide incoming students with another caring connection point.”
The Cub Connectors see the need for their new position and are excited to be a contact point for support.
“There has been a huge need, [during and since Covid-19], for community building at Bowdoin in an intentional way,” Reinemann said. “I think Bowdoin is great at fostering all different things that create community, but this [program] is a really good way to organize it and start from the beginning to set students up for success.”
Macat is especially enthusiastic about the opportunity to give back to younger classes.
“I don’t work with a student-facing position currently. I work with youth [at Upward Bound], but it’s a tertiary program attached to the College, so I was really interested in getting to know current students and helping facilitate community in their experience,” Macat said.
Besides community building, Cub Connectors will also serve as a connection to resources.
“[First years] can ask that person questions. They will direct you to the spaces and places that might offer support and resources for [first years]. So we’re really excited that every [first year] will meet a staff member from all across the campus,” Quinby said in an Arrival Day Town Hall on August 10. “We have folks from alumni relations, admissions, the library, administrative staff—all kinds of wonderful people have signed up to be Cub Connectors.”
Quinby added that the Cub Connectors do have set responsibilities. They are expected to have regular meetings with their floors and are encouraged to have additional meetings and email correspondence as well.
Macat and other Cub Connectors are eager to take on the mentorship opportunity.
“[We’re] somebody to talk to about things that first years are unsure of, like, ‘all my roommates drink, and I don’t think that’s something I want to do. How do I talk about setting a boundary, or how do I make friends without drinking?’ Or, ‘I’m really excited about the board game club, but I don’t know anyone. What should I do?’ [We’re] an unbiased person to talk to,” Macat said.