Aleesha Bray asks Jamie Everett and Paula Kutzner about their University of Calgary experiences for the video testimonials.
Michael Grondin/the Gauntlet

Video testimonials showcase student experience

My First Six Weeks initiative shows students how to get involved

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A student's engagement outside the classroom can define their entire university experience. But some students, especially new ones, may not be aware of how to get involved.

The Office of Leadership and Student Engagement is working on a project called My First Six Weeks, which aims to provide insight into the many opportunities at the University of Calgary. In conjunction with this project, a collection of video testimonials from students and alumni about their experiences at the U of C will be used to give incoming students a peer-based model on the many different ways they can engage with the university community.

According to first-year experience coordinator with the Office of Leadership and Student Engagement Aleesha Bray, this project will give new students insight into campus involvement, which can increase their personal development.

"It's a transitional time for incoming students, and it's a time when having a lot of support is very beneficial," said Bray. "We want not only to enhance students' university careers, but also enhance their personal development and their community development as well."

The video testimonials interview students about what they have done during their time at university -- like being involved in clubs, the Students' Union and tri-media.

"We want to explore the work they have done on campus, off campus, as well as their individual work," said Bray. "We want to talk about how their involvement has enriched their experience at the U of C, and to show new students different opportunities for growth. We want to enrich a student's experience as a whole."

Bray said that every individual's experience is unique, and if opportunities can become more accessible, it will be easier to enhance incoming students' experiences.

"I think often when we come in as first-year students, it can be overwhelming in terms of getting courses figured out. Then sometimes we can miss out on the opportunities that are available. There's just so much to learn," said Bray. "Even just taking a first step into a new experience can be really intimidating, and we want students not to be afraid to get involved."

The testimonials will be displayed during orientation week, and will be put online for students to access at any time. There will also be workshops and seminars throughout the year detailing the opportunities students have at the U of C, as well as many other events, like clubs week.

Bray said My First Six Weeks will also enrich the campus, and students' connection to the university.

"Not only do projects like this expand what a student's experience will be at a university, but it can give them a sense of community beyond the classroom," said Bray. "The importance of these testimonials is it's one thing to hear that a club or organization is really great, but sometimes we just want to hear an individual's personal view or experience."

The filming for the testimonials is expected to be completed by June 28.