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Hullabaloo U Review: A History and a Vision

Published on 10/16/2020 11:39:29 AM
By Jada Gonzalez '20

Hullabaloo U - Texas A&M University's first-year experience course - was founded in 2019 by the Office for Student Success. As part of the Student Success Initiative, this campus-wide seminar course was designed to improve retention and graduation rates for all students. While serving 96% of the university's first-year students, Hullabaloo U instructors and peer mentors offer guidance and instill courage in their students to conquer the day-to-day struggles of being a college student.

"Hullabaloo U strives to build a community, enhance student's awareness of campus resources, and develop their student's skills to achieve personal and academic goals and readiness to a respectful and inclusive environment," says Kayleigh Campbell, Program Coordinator for Hullabaloo U.

This semester, Hullabaloo U has helped first-year students create community in the midst of COVID-19 and virtual learning. First-year students need community to be successful in college and – with many students attending classes online – they need peer-to-peer interaction more than ever.

 “Our hope is that each student walking into a Hullabaloo U course finds a welcoming and affirming environment, a faculty or staff instructor committed to their success, a peer mentor to help them navigate the transition experience, and a small community of other first-year students,” says Campbell.

The Hullabaloo U curriculum includes topics such as wellness, academic success strategies, healthy relationships, and respect and inclusion. Due to the conversation-based nature of the course, instructors can have a profound impact on the development of their students. Shelby Salmons, program coordinator for EAB Navigate, reflects on one of her proudest moments while she and her students were debriefing after a class activity.

“I was sharing some of the commonalities that our class shared during their goals," said Salmons. "Almost my entire class shared they wanted to continue to grow spiritually and that they want to prioritize mental health. I shared I was on my own journey to work on my mental health this year which led to a student feeling safe and encouraged to reach out for resources on campus."

Hullabaloo U instructors and peer mentors understand that it is the little accomplishments that make the biggest difference in a student's academic career. The connections and professional relationships made through this course are part of what make Hullabaloo U so unique.

“Ultimately, we would like to build this program to help students be successful in their first year and beyond," said Campbell. "We would love to see this program fully embraced by the Aggie community and part of the Texas A&M Student experience. The first-year experience is bigger than this one program and we hope that Hullabaloo U is a connecting piece that works with all the other first-year, programs to build the premiere first-year experience.”

For more information about Hullabaloo U, visit tx.ag/OSSFYE