Margaret Fowler Garden and Oratory (2002), Scripps College


As one of Scripps College’s New Student Program coordinators, junior Julia Black has become an integral part of one of the school’s primary community-building programs and one of the campus’s most visible student leaders.

The program is designed to help incoming students transition to campus life and familiarize them with the various resources and opportunities available to them. As one of the coordinators, Black started working over the summer to plan orientation events that would help students explore the surrounding Claremont/Los Angeles area, socialize with other students across the five college campuses, and connect with various forms of personal and administrative support.

Additionally, she is responsible for overseeing a group of 38 peer mentors and team leaders who are assigned small groups of new students with whom to stay in touch throughout the year and to hold monthly educational and social programs.

“I think it’s important to be a good listener and have your feelers out, to be able to understand the vibe of a group, how people are working with each other … how to efficiently put on programs,” says Black. She also stresses the importance, when acting as a community leader, of expressing enthusiasm, remaining organized, and maintaining reliable communication.

In addition to being able to function independently, Black also describes the importance of her being able to collaborate, especially with her co-coordinator and fellow junior Maya Ellis.

“We’ve been able to find a balance,” says Black. “Both of us are good at stepping in or stepping out, … sending out emails or being the point person or the leader of a certain event. We each have a different set of people within the team that are comfortable talking to us versus the other.”

She also points to their having similar core values, if different ways of operating, that are rooted in wanting a successful team, maintaining a laid-back approach, and having fun. “You bond when you cook together,” she laughs.

To ensure that the program serves students rather than assumptions about their needs and interests, Black also points to the importance of not being possessive of one’s work and being able to ask for help as needed: “As leaders we do still need help and support.”

Black’s work has required up to 100 hours of work a week over the summer and continues to be a significant responsibility on top of her environmental analysis studies, selling Challah bread on the weekends and recently joining a roller derby team.

What else does she like about the job other than getting fellow students settled and helping them adjust? She smiles. “Perks of the job are warm brownies and gift cards for 21 Choices.”

(Written by Elizabeth Lee, edited by Terril Y. Jones; Sept. 17, 2015)

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