This is your time -- your first year in college. It's a great adventure, with new friends, new ideas, a whole new part of your life. We are so glad you’ve decided to spend it with us!
The First-Year Experience (FYE) at Southern is your home base for academic programs resources, and student support services designed to help you get off to a great start at Southern.
We help you make the transition to college, connecting each of you with fellow students, a faculty advisor, and a peer mentor right in the classroom with you -- through innovative learning communities and a first-year seminar where everybody knows your name!
INQ 101: the First-year Seminar & Academic Advising
All first-year students get a seat in our innovative and nationally-recognized first-year seminar, INQ 101! Designed to introduce you to college work by immersing you in it and supporting you through it, the seminar is taught by some of our best professors. Your INQ 101 professor will be your academic advisor for the first semester—getting to know you and helping you explore majors, courses, support services, and more.
We know how important it is for you to find friends right away—people to study with, get coffee with, make memories with. We help you along by putting all first-year students in a two-course learning community. This means you will be in two of your courses with the same small group of students, an easy way to make friends right away. When students graduate, they often report having met their best friend in their first-semester learning community.
Guess who else we put right in the INQ classroom with you? A student who has been where you have been—one of our highly trained Peer Mentors—who remembers what it’s like to be a new student and helps you find your way around campus and through the university. Peer Mentors help connect you to support services and involvement opportunities and are there for you when you need them.
FYRE: First-year Research & Artistry Experience
Ready to try something fun and new in the classroom? In your INQ course, you won’t just be exploring the research of others, but you will become a researcher! We will guide you through the steps of conducting actual, hands-on research on an exciting topic—and maybe even coming up with your own invention or piece of art or social justice campaign. Don’t worry if you have never done anything like this before – most of our students haven’t – we will be there with you every step of the way. In the end, some of the projects will be chosen for FYRE DAY and hung in our FYRE gallery. But regardless, most of our students report being so proud of their projects. We can’t wait to see yours!
The First-year Office Team
Nicole Henderson has served as Director of the First-Year Experience (FYE) since 2007 and has been at Southern as professor of English since 1999, when her love for working with first-year students began. Nicole graduated from Western Connecticut State University with a BA in English and also holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. In 2008, Nicole won Southern’s CSCU Outstanding Teaching Award, and in 2012, received not only Southern’s Student Advocate Award but was one of only 20 educators in the United States that year who received the Student Advocate Award from the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition. She received this award for the strength of Southern’s First-Year Experience Program, which she leads, but which she always reminds us is the result of a true collaboration of the entire campus.
Dyan Robinson has served as the Assistant Director of the First-Year Experience since 2015 and has been at Southern since 1999 as both a faculty member and staff. She began her professional career working in Admissions and teaching for the Communication Department. In 2013, Dyan began teaching Inquiry 101 and shortly after she joined FYE as the Assistant Director. Dyan holds a BS in Corporate Communication, MA in Psychology and Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Southern Connecticut State University. As a proud alum, Dyan is excited to support our newest and future Owls as they begin their collegiate journey with us.