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Catherine Coussons

How many years have you been involved with the FIG Program and in what capacity?
I have been involved with the FIG program for a total of 2 years so far. My first year I was a Residential FIG student and my second I was a mentor. Currently, I am working in the FIG office to help assist in the training of new and upcoming FIG mentors.

Why is this program important to you?
Training new mentors has given me the opportunity to see how FIG has inspired others to become leaders and provide guidance to newcomers in the difficult transition from high school to college. In general, the FIG program is an excellent learning experience for both the mentor and students. It provides freshmen a great opportunity to learn more about the university as well as make friends and network with faculty and staff. As a mentor, you get the personal satisfaction of knowing you have affected someone’s life in a positive manner.

How has it helped you or changed your life in any way?
I learned that uncertainty is not always something to fear, but rather something to learn from. Through the FIG program, I was able to interact with students experiencing the same apprehension as I was. The combined effort of each individual allowed us to grow together and accomplish our first year of college. Furthermore, this beneficial support system has left me with friends and experiences that will never be forgotten.

Describe one of your most memorable FIG moments.
The first memory that comes to mind was during one of our more informal FIG sessions where a few of my FIG students and I engaged in conversation about our different life experiences. At the end of class, one student approached me and mentioned that FIG made UT feel more like home. He thanked me for guiding him through this transition while allowing him to “finally break out of his shell”. I then realized how comfortable my students had become around me, as well as one another and how drastically mentors can affect their students’ first year experiences.

Describe the program in one word and explain why you chose that word.
Worthwhile. Whether you are a student, mentor, or facilitator, everyone gains something valuable from the FIG experience. The program promotes unity, school spirit, and success. Partaking in FIG allows one to meet a diverse group of people who share similar interests as well as provides students a foundation of confidence from which they can then build upon through next few years of their life.