(opinions) mozaiko

Harper Hall, where the new Mozaiko living-learning community will be housed, Nov. 19, 2016.

The first year in college can be stressful. Questions that a lot of new students ask themselves are about their living situation. Where should I live? Who am I going to room with? Will I make a lot of friends? The dorm you live in can impact your freshman year in a major way.

In a few of the dorms on campus, you will find programs called Living-Learning Communities (LLCs). The LLCs focus on integrating certain areas of interest with where you live. They allow students with similar interests to live and study together. The topics that are covered by these LLCs are: Arts and Creativity - Studio 72, Culture and Identity - Ujima, Engineering - Galileo and Hypatia, Entrepreneurship - Innovate, Honors - Hillcrest, Languages and Global Learning - Mozaiko, Major Exploration - VIA, Personal Growth - Thrive, Sciences - Orion, Transfer Students - Transfer Experience, Well-Being - Meraki and the Corps of Cadets.

Weekly meetings are held in the communities where residents are asked to participate in active discussions, activities and listen to guest speakers. Virginia Tech states that first-year LLC students have higher GPAs than non-LLC students, show fewer conduct referrals than non-LLC residence halls and report higher rates of mentorship of students by faculty. Galileo, Hypatia, Orion, Innovate, VIA and Meraki all have required courses that the residents need to take their first year of college.

All of the LLCs are located in different dorms throughout the residential side of campus. Prices of being a part of these programs vary depending on which building it is located in, but each LLC has a $50 per semester program fee that funds all the programs and activities offered. The spaces that are picked out for these communities include community kitchens, libraries, studios, maker spaces and classrooms, keeping group living and learning in mind. There are also three residential colleges that make up the Learning Living Programs with the LLCs. The community for the first-year engineering students is split up into two sections called Galileo and Hypatia, which are for men and women respectively.

Nicholas Hoang, who is a sophomore majoring in electrical engineering, has been a resident of Galileo since the first semester of his freshman year. It is located on the seventh, sixth and half of the fifth floor of Hoge Hall. Hypatia makes up the other half of the fifth floor, and all of the third and fourth floors. Last semester he became a mentor for the students in Hypatia.

“I was originally introduced in the program after learning about LLCs while applying,” Hoang said. “But I then kept hearing about it from the other students who I had connected with who were also majoring in engineering. The friendships I developed during the events, mentor meetings and from living side by side with my friends provided a great breather from classes and helped me enjoy my freshman year so much more.”

Some students follow what Hoang did and take up a leadership role in their second year of being an on-campus resident. He is currently a mentor and a committee member for the LLC’s board. Many students who stay state that living there helped them transition into college and that they want to continue doing that for other students. It is a rare opportunity that students can have in the dorms to implement changes that they believe will make the living experiences better and more enjoyable for their peers.

Virginia Tech states that the LLCs will “change the way you think about living on campus by integrating what you study, where you live, who you live with, and how you think about the world.” Students can apply to these LLCs through the StarRez Portal when a housing contract is made available for interested and eligible students.