C.O.N.E.C.T. (Caring Of New student Experiencing College Transition was created in 1998 by Dr. Tomarra Adams. The program was created because of the following:
- Research shows that minority students often experience feelings of alienation and loneliness while at predominately white institutions
- The demands of the college environment is often difficult for new students as they are faced with new social and academic challenges
- Research also shows Black students do not look to White faculty and staff as role models for their leadership; having a peer mentor proves to be an effective connection for freshmen
CONECT Mentors are paired at the beginning of the year with approximately 18-25 freshmen. Providing continuous support to African American students is one of the most important factors to inspiring students to persist here at the University of Louisville. This support is what the CONECT Mentoring Program was founded upon and continues to provide. The CONECT Peer Mentor Program addresses the issue of retention through monthly social programs, educational workshops, individual mentoring, and consistent communication with freshman students. Our students learn about campus and community resources that will directly impact and improve their experience at the University. With the goal of encouraging students to excel academically and receive recognition from their peers and family members, CONECT offers the annual African American Recognition Reception.
The reception acknowledges Black Recognized Student Organizations and faculty for their outstanding achievements and service. Each year approximately 500 Black students and faculty members are invited to attend this event. Last year we had over 250 students, staff and faculty in attendance. The program recognizes those students who have maintained a cumulative 3.0 GPA as well as those that plan to graduate in the current academic year. This is the only ceremony that formally recognizes African American students for their academic excellence, and from personal experience, is one of the essential motivators needed to excel while at the University of Louisville. This event includes food, awards, a keynote speaker and a band, all supplied to give back to our students for their hard work and contribution to the university.
"The Caring of New Students Experiencing College Transition organization has been extremely impactful for both mentors and mentees. This year, I have the opportunity to mentor 29 freshman students. Of the 29, I’ve formed several meaningful relationships. My mentees do not hesitate to reach out to me about academic or personal matters. And, I do not hesitate to rely on my own freshman experience and lessons learned to best advise them. This academic year has been different than any other because of the global pandemic. The class of 2024 was met with questions that no one could answer and with a freshman experience different than those that came before them. This year my fellow mentors and I have been intentional about being available to our mentees to ensure their success and happiness at UofL. Despite the many lifestyles changes that have been made, most of the freshmen I’ve encountered have been able to be social and do well in their classes. CONECT has been crucial to the amplifying of black voices on campus. In the past we’ve hosted events that are centered around blackness and allow students a space to hold conversations. Some of those conversations stay in those spaces, and others extend out into campus and the community. Not only is CONECT impactful for the mentees, but it is also impactful for the mentors. I am a second-year mentor with a lot of experiences with CONECT. Being a mentor adds value to my life. My mentees make me a better communicator, a better listener, and a better person overall. I am grateful for this organization and can attest to its impact on black freshmen students and black students at large."
Trinity Gillespie, CONECT Mentor
"The CONECT program has helped me out in so many ways. Whether it was finding the right place to study or just having someone to talk to my mentor was right there for me every step of the way. Thanks to my mentor, Daphne Woolridge, my adjustment to college was a breeze. Her effort and dedication to her mentees inspired me to become a CONECT mentor my ownself. It’s something about having an experienced student who has been in your shoes that makes the stressful environment of college a lot easier to adjust to. I encourage everyone to lean on their peers and mentors for support regardless of the struggle we are here for you!!!" -Noah Gray, Current CONECT mentor/former mentee
"Coming to a PWI as a Black male is not an experience that is easy to navigate. Finding other students who look like you and are dedicated to furthering their education was not something that came easily either. When coming to campus I was assigned a C.O.N.E.C.T. mentor, which immediately gave me a sigh of relief. My mentor was also a Black Male who guided me through this new experience, checked in on me, supported and motivated me to keep pushing through my courses, even at my toughest moments in the semester. I was truly grateful to have my mentor and his impact influenced me to become a mentor myself. I wanted to be a resource to incoming Black Students experiencing their first year at a PWI. I sought to make sure that they had a positive role model, were supported by someone that looks like them, know that they are loved and cared for here on this campus and finally that they felt like they belonged here at the University of Louisville." -Merise Mwambayi