Starting a new school can be a scary situation, especially when it’s at the caliber of a program like the one at UIWRSO, but have no fear! The staff in Student Affairs office makes the transition into optometry school much easier by having the “Big Sib/Lil Sib Program.” Before entering UIWRSO, you are asked if you would like to participate in this voluntary program. It allows you to have a closer connection to a student already in the program, such as a second or third year. Students are asked to fill out a form with information such as their hometown, undergrad university, hobbies, optometry interests, etc. Student Affairs takes the time to pair you up with someone who has similar traits as you.
I would like to introduce you to my Big Sib, Michelle Serrano. I was paired up with my Big Sib based on our undergrad university. We both attended the University of Texas at El Paso. It’s an interesting coincidence because I even remember having her for one of my chemistry labs previously, but we never interacted then. After the first time we spoke, I knew right away that we would be great friends and that she would be an invaluable asset to me. She has helped me in so many ways, from helping me develop my skills in lab and tips on test-taking and professors, to just hanging out and talking about things outside of school. It’s great to have the perspective of a student who has already experienced the things you are going through. There are going to be a lot of tough days, but it’s comforting knowing you have your Big Sib there to guide you. Once you become a second year, you have the privilege of becoming a Big Sib, if you wish to participate.
I asked several students about their Big Sib/Lil Sib experiences and this is what they had to say:
“I’m glad that RSO has this program. I knew absolutely no one in San Antonio, and it felt good to know that before I even started school, I had a friend.”
“Second year is particularly difficult, and I can’t begin to tell you how much of an asset my big sibling has been in pushing me and helping me through the year.”
“I love my little sibling! They [Student Affairs] did a great job in pairing us up.”
“A lot of people think the Big Sibs are the only ones that help. It works both ways. We really depend on each other. When she had boards, I was there for her. When I had my final proficiency, she was there for me. We definitely lean on each other for support.”
In addition to giving students an opportunity to find new friends, the Big Sib/Lil Sib program is great in bridging the gap between classes from different years. I really enjoy seeing first, second, third, and even fourth years hanging out at all the school activities and outside of school, also. The program allows us to break the ice even before school starts! I love the program and definitely plan on continuing the tradition of helping new students as they make their journey through UIWRSO.