Instead of the usual promise of, “See you next week!” after their cell biology lecture, students pack up and walk back to their shared residence, a dedicated corridor in Wilbur Hall. Although the situation may seem unusual for a small residential college, it is part of the day-to-day for Scripps students who are members of the newly established science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and pre-health Living Learning Community (LLC) located in Wilbur Hall.
Students in an LLC choose to live together because of common interests or affiliations such as academic majors, languages, or social or political commitments. Scripps College leads the way for such communities within the Claremont colleges, as the first of the 5Cs to have an LLC integrated into its residential life.
Now in its third month, Scripps’ STEM LLC pilot community is part of the College’s mission to create a supportive environment for students both inside and outside the classroom.
As Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Charlotte Johnson explains, “We wanted to engage students more in terms of their co-curricular experience and leverage the fact that we are a residential college.”
With 12 members ranging from first years to juniors, the LLC provides STEM and pre-health majors with access to each other as resources; students can easily ask questions, seek help, and glean wisdom from their peers. Resident Adrienne Hino ’17, a biology major, says being able to share her experiences, struggles, triumphs, and advice has been a great experience.
“It’s nice to be able to tell people not to worry, that everything is going to be okay, and they’re not alone in their hardships,” she says.
Those who participate in the STEM LLC receive additional support from faculty as well.
“Usually, STEM majors receive most of their support from W.M. Keck Science Department, which is a joint initiative between Pitzer, Claremont McKenna, and Scripps Colleges, so it’s amazing to have a community for STEM and pre-health majors at Scripps,” says Giselle Garcia ’17, a molecular biology major and the current Resident Advisor of the STEM and Pre Health LLC.
Garcia helps foster relationships between Keck Science Department faculty and Scripps’ STEM community by creating programs that promote interaction outside of the classroom; members of the LLC are encouraged to attend such programs throughout the semester. Students are also supported to create their own community-building events. These have ranged from a liquid nitrogen ice cream mixer with Keck Science Department faculty to an organic chemistry session hosted by advanced students for those who are currently taking the infamously difficult course.
STEM and pre health LLC members also promote engagement and interaction with students from other majors. “Students aren’t isolated in the identity of their interests within the classroom, but they can actually bring back what they’ve learned to be more plugged in with students, faculty, and even alumnae,” says Jill Langan, the assistant hall director of Scripps Residential Life.
Though in its beginning stages, the STEM LLC has had a promising start. In the coming years, the Office of Student Affairs hopes to be able to expand its membership while maintaining, as Dean Johnson says, “its spirit of inclusive excellence.”
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