Guest Blog: Here for VU!
By: Luke Nicholaou, VUcept Public Relations Chair
Fifty years ago, a group of students founded VUcept to meet the demands of an ever-changing first-year class. Since then, VUcept has evolved into an organization that has not only enhanced Vanderbilt’s first-year orientation, now called CommonVU, but has expanded to serve as a group of peer mentors, together with faculty mentors, throughout the fall semester.
Ninety-two upperclass student and faculty teams—called Student and Faculty VUceptors—work together every year to welcome the incoming class and guide groups of 18-20 first-year students through CommonVU, weekly Vanderbilt Visions sessions, and throughout the first semester at Vandy. VUceptors help support the personal and academic growth of first-year students within the living and learning community of The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons. However, any student who has been involved in the program would tell you that there is much, much more to VUcept and to Vanderbilt Visions.
Student and faculty VUceptors are among the first people at Vanderbilt that new students meet. Student VUceptors have a passion for peer mentorship and are here because we want to make your first college experiences the best they can be. We are here to help set you up for success during the four years that you will be a part of Vanderbilt. We are involved in many diverse organizations on campus and have formed strong networks through our experiences here, so we are excellent resources for new students.
Faculty VUceptors have as much love for the university as student VUceptors. Not only are they extremely intelligent and distinguished leaders in their departments and throughout campus, but they also have a huge passion for mentorship and cherish the time they get to spend with first-year students. Faculty can give a different perspective on various topics and are genuinely interested in the well-being of their students. Overall, student and faculty VUceptors represent the Vanderbilt community as a whole, and therefore exude diversity, leadership, involvement, and scholarship and social engagement.
The Vanderbilt Visions program kicks off each academic year during CommonVU, as you finally get to move into one of the ten houses on The Ingram Commons. That’s when you will meet your student and faculty VUceptors for the first time, as well as the other students in your group. Through various activities, you and the members of your group get to know each other better and start building relationships that will last over your four years at Vanderbilt, which is why diving in head-first with CommonVU is so beneficial. It’s a busy and tiring week, but there’s no better way to immediately make new friends and meet some of your potential classmates.
After the excitement of CommonVU dies down, our weekly Vanderbilt Visions sessions present the avenue for you to continue learning from your VUceptors as well as from the peers in your group – it remains one of your main connections and resources for navigating life at Vanderbilt and becoming a successful student and peer. We will be talking about The Commons Reading (a book that each first-year student will have read by the time Visions starts), goals and aspirations, the truths about college life, and how to deal with academic and social pressures.
I am continually realizing the incredible things that VUcept has done not only for current first-year students, but also for the rest of the university. I’ve come to understand that one of the biggest reasons many upperclass students want to become involved as student VUceptors is because they want to give back to an organization that has given so much to them. Having had a core group of people to meet with every week played a major role in deciding how I wanted to live my life at Vanderbilt, which directions I wanted to take, and what kind of mark I wanted to leave on the university.
Even now, as my junior year is winding to a close, I look back on my experiences during that first semester and have to admit that I probably wouldn’t be the type of student – academically, socially, and intellectually – that I am today without VUcept.