By Jim DeLa
Students participating in New College’s Living Learning Communities have a new staff member on campus making sure they get the most out of their experience.
Nicole Gelfert has joined New College as associate director of residential education. Her main focus will be to develop and oversee the Living Learning Communities. Called LLCs, the communities bring together students with shared interests to the same residence hall. LLCs create links between the academic, social, and residential experience based on themes including writing, health and wellness, community organizing, and sustainable living. “They help the learning go far beyond the four walls of the classroom,” Gelfert explained.
Settling into her office in HCL 1, Gelfert says she’s ready to get to work. “This is an opportunity to build on the great work that’s already been done,” she said. One of her goals is amplify, fortify and expand opportunities, “engaging students as members of the community.”
Living in a community of students who share common interests is a unique experience. “They’re about physical space and common opportunities,” she said. “Participants can be a part of a community on their terms. It’s a support network” that encourages cohesion.
While some LLCs have more requirements for participation than others, every student makes their own choices, she said. “They can figure out what their role is — forge their own role in areas that interest them.”
If that’s not a big enough job, she’s also filling in as fellowships coordinator until midsemester.
Gelfert grew up in Central Florida and went to college close to home at the University of Central Florida. “As a first-generation, low-income student, staying close made college a lot more affordable.” She continued her education in the Midwest at the University of Nebraska.
She returned to Florida and spent six years at UCF developing the fellowship program at the school’s honors college. She accepted a Title IX program manager position at Yale in 2014, and she served in that capacity until her move to New College. Her Title IX experience, she said, prepared her for her role at New College. “Continuously advising and coaching students in a supportive culture and climate has given me the skill sets,” to succeed here and help students live and be well in a holistic way. “A lot of my inspiration comes from engaging the community.”
“I’m also eager and excited to talk to faculty and staff,” she said. “I’m looking forward to creating something extraordinary together.”
– Jim DeLa is digital communications coordinator at New College of Florida.