LAS seeks leaders

By Megan McNamara

The College of LAS is seeking qualified upperclassmen to become learning leaders.

“The goal of the learning communities is to provide students with a smooth transition from high school to college,” said Mercedes Ramirez-Fernandez, LAS learning communities dean.

Another goal of the program is to make the campus seem smaller because it can be daunting for freshmen to arrive at such a large University, Ramirez-Fernandez said.

“Based on evaluations we’ve been collecting since 1999, (students) felt that relationships they’ve started in learning communities have helped them in their studies at U of I,” she said.

Students form study groups in their learning communities and learn how to utilize the library resources and take advantage of all the University has to offer, Ramirez-Fernandez said. Additionally, the learning leaders provide students with information on academic opportunities in LAS, inform students of the College’s academic policy, and serve as mentors to the students, she said.

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Learning Leaders are “an amazing group of students,” Ramirez-Fernandez said.

They receive a stipend from the College of LAS for teaching LAS 100 and are supervised by two graduate students.

Each graduate student oversees 20 learning leaders, and meets weekly with them to construct lesson plans, discuss what works in each section and what they can do to better facilitate a class.

Though there is a syllabus for LAS 100 and each class has a topic, the learning leaders have a lot of freedom in how they facilitate the class, Ramirez-Fernandez said.