Diversity and Democracy

First-Year Learning Communities: A Student’s Experience

In September 2008, I started classes at LaGuardia Community College. Not knowing what to expect from my professors, my classes, or my classmates, I was extremely nervous. I felt like I was entering foreign territory where anything could happen. I was anxious to find out what was waiting for me.

My nervousness didn't last long. At the beginning of the semester, Professors William Koolsbergen and Phyllis Van Slyck greeted us with friendly faces. They introduced us to the topics we would cover in the learning community cluster and explained that they would teach five classes, including one they would teach together. I loved the idea of having the same students in all my classes, and I was glad that Drs. Koolsbergen and Van Slyck would be my only professors. I was eager to begin my journey and had high expectations.

The cluster focused on the 1960s. Knowing that the sixties was a period of change and liberation for many social groups in the United States, I was excited to learn more. By writing essays, working on presentations and group activities, watching movies, and discussing topics as a class, we learned about the Summer of Love, the women's movement, gay liberation, the Vietnam War, and civil rights. Through my research, I discovered what different groups had been through, and I wrote many essays exploring my beliefs about equality.

Professor Phyllis and Professor Will made me feel at home in class. I loved going to school, no matter how much I had to study or how many essays I had to write, and I completed assignments with pleasure. The professors were always ready to help with assignments, answer questions, and make lessons fun.

I bonded with other students through the cluster, and we became great friends. We came together as a group to help each other learn, both inside and outside of school. We shared our different thoughts, beliefs, and interests, and we helped each other when we had questions about homework or assignments. We made each other's lives much easier. I believe that some of us will remain friends after we graduate.

Through the cluster, our professors showed us how exciting it is to follow our dreams and how many opportunities college offers. I am grateful that I was able to work with great professors and make good friends in my first semester. This experience has motivated me to move forward and reach toward the highest goals I have set for myself.

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