Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many communities within IUPUI have struggled to find ways to maintain connections between students. Despite this, the IUPUI Honors College has been able to create a virtual community that supports students as they learn and participate in virtual events.
Kristy Sheeler, the IUPUI Honors College executive associate dean, said that they have always given their student leaders the opportunity and responsibility to develop events and activities for their peers. Although that responsibility was heightened over the past year, Sheeler said returning scholars felt a duty to help the incoming class feel welcome and find their way.
According to Sheeler, while the student council stepped up by encouraging all student organizations to connect via social media to amplify all honors events, the peer mentors worked hard to engage incoming students in virtual and safe face-to-face events.
Sheeler emphasized that they gave students freedom to lead events of their choice and listened to the honors students to learn more about the events and the topics that would be interesting to them.
Those who are interested in building a virtual community like the IUPU Honors College did should follow their lead by increasing the overall number of events and engagement activities with both face-to-face and virtual options so students can find something of interest to attend. Sheeler also stressed that they trusted their students to organize events and be creative.
“We transitioned all our signature Honors College events online such as our Honors College Open House and our Emerging Leaders Workshop. We experimented with different platforms such as Kahoot and Glimpse. Whenever possible, we said 'yes' to an idea, and our students certainly delivered,” Sheeler said.