April 14, 2024

FOCUS leaders are an integral part of new freshmen and transfers’ experience at California Baptist University.

These students are the primary resources who initially connect students during Welcome Weekend, where they establish relationships with both their leaders as well as other students.

In addition to Welcome Weekend, freshmen FOCUS leaders are responsible for teaching a FOCUS class to freshmen students. This class orients new students by transferring their mindset from high school to college.

Leaders are trained every night to facilitate the class, which generally includes a devotional, activity, content and room for students to have discussion.

Through this class, the leaders provide space for them to build community with one another, while providing them with academic resources.

“The curriculum is really anything from helping them navigate Blackboard or InsideCBU to discussing how to handle conflict management, finances and more because they are formulating their decision-making on their own now,” said Jay Stovall, director of New Student Programs and Orientation.

Student leaders, especially for freshmen students, have an opportunity to build relationships through this class and relate to the freshmen as they were in their same position not too long ago. This provides a level of comfort that eases students in their transition to university life.

“The students probably grow the most as they are transitioning into a whole new setting in life. FOCUS enables the students to perform well academically, socially and spiritually,” said Jorden Chryss, junior accounting major and freshman FOCUS leader.

FOCUS provides the space for students to build community through various activities and the opportunity to grow students socially by getting them out of the classroom.

“We have opportunities for them to get points by going to Campus Night that spiritual life is putting on, to the Career Center to get a mock interview and to Student Success if they need tutoring . We have points for them to get connected with professors and attend athletic events,” Stovall said.

Students who lead transfer FOCUS groups, however, play a different role than freshman FOCUS leaders. The transfer program is designed to help transfer students feel independent of the new freshmen while still allowing students to connect with each other and their leaders.

“They’ve made a lot of different changes in the transfer program,” said Allie Bragg, junior liberal studies major and transfer FOCUS leader.

FOCUS is exemplifying their adaptability to students’ individual wants and needs.

This year, transfer leaders are one team that has specific individuals focus on specific students.

There are different teams set up in collaboration with essentially every office on campus to provide students with leaders involved in every interest, whether that is intramural sports, outdoor adventures or more.

Transfer FOCUS leaders are essentially available to socialize with their students and provide events and activities to connect them with each other and CBU.

“We have divided and conquered in a way that leaders have ownership in their different offices that they’re collaborating with to help connect students with what they want,” Stovall said.

For FOCUS leaders, new students are not the only ones being impacted.

“What interested me in becoming a FOCUS leader was the opportunity FOCUS provides in allowing God to work in my life and through me in others lives,” Chryss said. “FOCUS allows me to help freshmen students transition into a college life with all the new challenges it brings. It also challenges me to grow in my own faith as I challenge students in theirs.”

The leaders, just like the students, are personally shaped by the experiences and interactions they have with their students through FOCUS.

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