Living-learning communities create opportunities for UMass Boston’s newest students to connect
Just a couple of weeks after moving from Lawrence into UMass Boston’s first-ever residence halls this September, freshman environmental science major Maria Rodriguez found herself up early on a Saturday morning, on the beach outside the dorms, picking up trash. Trash that she then turned into art. And she wasn’t the only one.
The Lawrence resident is just one of the many members of the Class of 2022 who have joined one of UMass Boston’s three Living-Learning Communities as a way to connect with people with the same interests. And despite the name, living on campus isn’t a requirement.
As is the case for students who work with the University Advising Center and Career Services and Internships, students in the Beacon Explorers Living-Learning Community get help discovering their talents, identifying their goals, and designing a plan to meet them. In the Social Justice Living-Learning Community, students develop their leadership abilities by identifying and addressing social injustices. Students in the Green Planet LLC lead the charge in greening the campus.
“I like to be a part of change, and Green Planet LLC gives me the ability to do that,” Rodriguez said. “Green Planet LLC is a great community that offers students many opportunities to be a part of big and small changes to the future of our community. It is an honor to be a part of it.”
Brandon Scott, a freshman environmental science major from Braintree who also lives in the residence halls, likes the networking opportunities that the community offers. He says he finds himself hanging out with other Green Planet members outside of events.
“Some of my closest friends in college are people I met through the LLC,” Scott said.
Tahirah Abdullah, an assistant professor of psychology and also the faculty-in-residence in the dorms, says she sees that sense of community building as well. Abdullah has been assisting Office of Student Leadership and Community Engagement Director Heather Whitney in planning events for the Social Justice LLC.
“The Social Justice LLC programming I have attended has brought together students living on campus, students living off campus, graduate students, faculty, and staff. Few spaces at UMass Boston do this,” Abdullah said. “Building community with other people who approach shared passions in similar or different ways enhances the overall student experience. As a faculty member, being involved in an LLC has allowed me to make and grow connections with other faculty outside of my department and with Student Affairs staff who share a commitment to social justice.”
Sophomore biology major Halimo Ali sought out the Social Justice LLC because the Lynn resident wanted to be a part of something bigger.
“I wanted to be a part of a community here, and I thought that the Social Justice LLC would be the most interesting,” Ali said.
It was easy for Ali to make a connection with at least one other member of the Social Justice LLC because she’s Ali’s RA.
Senior Maddy LaCure is the RA working with the Social Justice LLC. The women’s, gender, and sexuality studies major from Hudson coordinated the New Student Day of Service in September for both residential and commuter students.
“I wanted to work with this learning community because I am passionate about social justice and encouraging my fellow students to learn more about their community and engage in activism,” LaCure said.
“The best part about the Social Justice LLC is getting to hear other people’s experiences with social justice and also getting involved in our communities by doing service,” Ali said.
For those not yet in a Living-Learning Community, John Sears, the interim associate dean and director of housing and residential life, says joining one can be quite beneficial.
“Living-Learning Communities offer students the opportunities to pursue academically related interests outside of the classroom in their residential environment. When LLCs are coupled with a first-year residential experience, such as UMass Boston’s, they also offer a strong support network to help first-year students adjust to college,” Sears said.
And then there’s this, from Abdullah: “Students who are more involved on campus and especially more involved in LLCs generally tend to have better academic outcomes.”
Or as Rodriguez put it, “Every day you learn a new thing when you’re a part of Green Planet LLC.”
Continuing and transferring students are welcome to join any of the three LLCs. An interest form is on the housing website.