UMD living and learning programs offer community-based experiences

By Sarah Fielder
Staff writer

 

living and learning

Photo courtesy of reslife.umd.edu

 

The University of Maryland has thousands of undergraduate students living on campus, but one way to make the campus feel smaller is through Living and Learning Programs.

Living and Learning Programs are specialized residential programs that link curricular and residential experiences, according to the Department of Resident Life website.

One of the Living and Learning Programs at the University of Maryland is the Jiménez-Porter Writer’s House, which is located in Queen Anne’s Hall and is offered as a one or two-year program.

“It is a living learning community of creative writers in prose or poetry,” said sophomore economics major Ashley Zupkus, who is in the Jiménez-Porter Writer’s House. “We take classes and have community based events. We all live in the dorm and are like-minded people, and we bond over writing stuff.”

About 50 to 60 students are in the Writer’s House program, according to the University of Maryland resident life website. Members can choose to either take classes that relate to writing or solely attend events hosted by the writer’s house.

“If you just in the community, you don’t have classes and your offered to go to all events,” said sophomore English major Wambugu Kironji, who is also in the Jiménez-Porter Writer’s House.

One of the major events the program hosts is Writers Here and Now, which is open to all students. Poets come to the event, and there is a reception held afterwards.  

“I have a love for writing, and I’m in a major, economics, which does not necessarily have me write poems for classes,“ said Zupkus.

Students can apply to join the Jiménez-Porter Writer’s House online.

College Park Scholars is another two-year Living and Learning Program that students may be invited to join their freshman year. The program emphasizes analytical, practical and lifelong learning, according to the Scholars website.

“There are a lot of supporting courses and abroad trips,” said Atousa Motameni, a sophomore English and psychology major who is a part of the Business Society and the Economy program in Scholars. Motameni has traveled to New York, Silicon Valley and throughout Southeast Asia for courses.

“I take a class in innovation and communication which is very fun,” said Motameni. “It’s a good way to get to know people.”

There are 12 different communities within Scholars, including Art and Public Leadership. Students can nominate themselves to join a program online the spring before they attend the University of Maryland.

“I like the idea of it,” said Kironji, who is also in the Global Public Health Scholars. “I think though that they should become more inclusive by being more lenient on requirements and offering more variety. It’s skewed towards STEM, there are few humanities and it’s not as diverse as you’d like it to be.”

Another Living and Learning Program at the university is CIVICUS, a two-year citation program, according to the CIVICUS website.

“The center focus is on volunteering and improving civic life,” said freshman journalism major Jackie Budko. “Each semester requires a certain number of volunteer hours and classes.”

One long-term volunteer opportunity is Common Threads, which teaches students about cooking skills and nutrition knowledge, according to the Common Threads website.

Students are invited to the program after they apply to the university or after their first semester freshman year. They are paired with a sophomore student currently in the program, called a buddy.

“I got a buddy to show me around, and they’re the best buddy out there,” said Budko. “They showed me all my classes, told me about service projects. It was nice to have a already at the university.”

CIVICUS is located in Somerset Hall, and has about 130 students in the program, according to the CIVICUS website.

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