woman standing near building
Milca Alfaro, a biology student, stands next to the new College of Science and Mathematics Building on Augusta University's Health Sciences Campus. [Michael Holahan/Augusta University]

Values Week 2021: Living Learning Communities help promote collegiality

During the annual Values Week from Nov. 8-14, Augusta University celebrates its six core values: collegiality, compassion, excellence, inclusivity, integrity and leadership.

Milca Alfaro, a third-year biology student from Hampton, Georgia, shares how being collegial through Augusta University’s Living Learning Communities has enhanced her campus experience. 

Collegiality is reflected in collaboration, partnership, sense of community and teamwork. 

Alfaro is on the pre-veterinary track and hopes to begin veterinary school soon after she graduates. She said Augusta University was the best option for her. 

“The campus life and the size of the university was really appealing to me, along with the student-teacher ratio,” she said.  

As a student in the College of Science and Mathematics, she had the unique opportunity to join their Living Learning Community while she stayed on campus her first year. 

LLCs provide students in specific majors or interest areas with co-curricular and residential experiences outside of class. While living in the LLC, students receive additional faculty/staff interaction and collaboration with a strong peer group of students who share academic interests and career goals.  

“The LLC taught me how to speak up more. I’m an introvert and I had to use my voice a lot more,” Alfaro said. 

Every group within the college’s LLC is led by a peer mentor who also shares the same career interests as their students. Alfaro had such a pleasant and impactful experience with her mentor that she felt empowered to become a mentor her sophomore year. 

“Knowing that she went through what I’m going through made it really helpful. I got insight from her on professors and other things. She was like a role model. I confided in her,” she said.  

“You have to really be on top of your work. The LLC helped me do that. Having someone listen to you and guide you makes a difference. I wanted to be that person for someone else. I wanted to help students as well because I understood what it felt like to be a freshman and how they can guide you.” 

In addition to being a mentor for students in her college’s LLC, she serves as a laboratory prep teacher’s assistant. 

“I enjoy being in the lab and learning how things work,” she said. 

Outside of her academic extracurriculars, she is a member of the Hispanic Organization of Youth and enjoys volunteering for the local Arts in the Hearts festival. Alfaro shows a collegial attitude with all her peers. 

“Collegiality means connecting with people — knowing how to make people feel comfortable and being a safe space for them,” Alfaro said. 

“I’m first-generation American. I come from a family where we were taught regardless of someone’s background, we should always be friendly. My dad taught me to appreciate people and to always be kind because you never know what someone else is going through,” she said. “My mom taught me those things, too.” 

Although Alfaro mentioned she tends to be quiet, she has grown to love interacting with her peers and helping them succeed, especially inside the classroom. 

“It makes me feel warm inside knowing that people rely on me and to be able to make new connections,” she said. “Having a nice conversation with someone can make their day. I get a lot of energy knowing that I’ve helped someone.” 

When asked about the university celebrating its six core values, she believes it’s a great opportunity for everyone to learn about diversity at AU. 

“It shows students all the different types of students at Augusta University. It moves me to see other people thrive,” she said.

“Augusta University really does care about their values and their students. I’m happy I came here.” 

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Written by
Raysean Ricks

Raysean Ricks is a writer for Communications & Marketing at Augusta University. Contact him to schedule an interview on this topic or with one of our experts at 706-721-6144 or email him at rricks@augusta.edu.

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Written by Raysean Ricks

Jagwire is your source for news and stories from Augusta University. Daily updates highlight the many ways students, faculty, staff, researchers and clinicians "bring their A games" in classrooms and clinics on four campuses in Augusta and locations across the state of Georgia.

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