ROCK Provides 'Sense of Community'

Incoming University of Scranton students arrive early to participate in the Royals of Color Kickoff (ROCK) program.
People dining at tables located under a white tent
Royals of Color Kickoff (ROCK) events took place on campus Thursday, Aug. 24 through Saturday, Aug. 26. On Friday, students and mentors attended dinner on the DeNaples Patio, shown.

By: Robert Correas-Rivera ’24, student correspondent

New friendships and the support of a mentor mean a lot to students in their first days away from home.

At The University of Scranton, first-year students tell Jose F. Sanchez, assistant director at the University's Cultural Center, that the Royals of Color Kickoff (ROCK) provides these and gives students "a sense of belonging and community".

Royals of Color Kickoff (ROCK), an early arrival program, invites new students of color to campus the Thursday prior to first-year Move-in to connect with peers, upper-division mentors and campus and local resources. Nearly 50 mentors and students were involved in this year's ROCK program, according to Sanchez.

"ROCK participants shared that they make social connections and feel a sense of belonging and community," he said. "They mention the guidance and support of mentors and student support services offices." 

Sanchez said that student feedback confirms the program as a success.

On Thursday, Aug. 24, ROCK participants began their move onto campus in the afternoon with their first official welcome arriving from staff, administrators and University President Rev. Joseph G. Marina, S.J. Later, the same group hosted a dinner for students and their families. After an evening farewell to loved ones, the newest Royals settled into their home away from home.

Over the two days that followed, students attended ice breakers and social activities, toured campus resources and sat in on two panels that featured faculty, staff, returning students and mentors.

"In one panel conversation, mentors shared details about their own transition to campus -- how they overcome challenges, found resources and built a community at Scranton," said Sanchez.

Among faculty panelists were Dr. Anthony Betancourt, assistant professor in the Psychology Department, and Dr. Melissa Anyiwo, associate professor in the History Department. Staff panelists included Tyrell Bradshaw, area coordinator, Abril Lopez, admissions dounselor, Maria Ramos, admissions counselor, Brandice Ricciardi, assistant director, Cultural Center and Sanchez.

Lopez '22, shared experiences from her two perspectives.

"All the staff has been super welcoming, even across offices. It has been such an easy transition from student to staff member," she said.

  • alt placeholderGuest panelists, from left: Dr. Anthony Betancourt, assistant professor in the Psychology Department, Tyrell Bradshaw, Area Coordinator, Maria Ramos, Admissions Counselor, Abril Lopez, Admissions Counselor, Dr. Melissa Anyiwo, associate professor in the History Department, and Jose Sanchez and Brandice Ricciardi, Assistant Directors, Cultural Center.
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