There are a lot of learning opportunities at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University that take place outside the walls of the classroom.
And now, students will be able to access many of them under the same roof.
That’s thanks to the establishment of the Experience Hub, located in the Clemens Library on the CSB campus.
The Hub – which is now open and welcoming visits from students – brings together four key offices in the same location, allowing students the ability to draw on the experiential learning opportunities each provide without having to trek to multiple locations scattered across two campuses.
“The four programs coming together to create the Experience Hub really allow us as staff to be more intentional about how we support our students when it comes to connecting them to experiential learning opportunities that complement their academic and career goals,” added Lindsey Gunnerson Gutsch, the Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholars, one of the organizations the Hub is now bringing under the same roof.
“It’s going to be the central space for students to access the best experimental learning opportunities available to support them outside the classroom,” added Sabrina Gilchrist, the Outreach and Hub Ambassador Manager at the Experience Hub.
“There’s tons of information coming to students – first-years and beyond. We’re here to help support them as they figure out ‘Who do I want to be, how do I want to discover who I want to be, and how do I connect to these different things?’
“We’ll be able to walk them through that process in a number of different areas.”
The four entities the Hub now brings together are:
a multifaceted department providing personal and professional support at each stage of a student’s academic career.
an office charged with connecting students to the many study-abroad and international exchange programs offered at CSB/SJU, as well as helping them access teaching abroad options and other on-campus global learning opportunities.
a research and creative work resource offering support, mentorship and competitive fellowship advisement to students, as well as being home to Pathways to Distinction, a new initiative that provides students the chance to earn distinction upon graduation arranged with the Institutional Learning Goals.
an office that supports the formation of ethical women leaders by connecting students to experiential learning and mentoring programs they might not otherwise have discovered or had access to.
“We’ve already had these programs for a number of years and the people in those offices have done a great job,” said Barb May, the Academic Dean at CSB/SJU. “(Bringing them together in one place) will only increase their visibility and let more students know what’s available in those areas.”
“I see all of us in the Hub as ‘Experience Advocates’ for our students,” Gunnerson Gutsch added. “For example, if a student is meeting with me about research project support, and in our conversation, they were to mention that they have interests in working in public service, I can now walk them right over to my colleague’s office to get them information about our Summer Leadership Fellows program and help that student make a new connection on campus.
“We hope by bringing all of the opportunities to a central location that we can make co-curricular engagement feel more accessible for students, encouraging all students to engage in new ways.”
Gilchrist said the Hub’s formation has been in the works for over a year now, and had its genesis in discussions between the directors of all four entities. The groups moved into the same space this summer and are now ready to open to the public.
“This is something program leaders have been envisioning for a while now because all of these departments were already working together,” Gilchrist said. “We just wanted to figure out how to make it easier for students to access all of these experiences.”
In addition to bringing all four entities together, the Hub will also be staffed by a team of around 10-12 Hub Ambassadors, students who will help guide visitors to where they want to go.
The Hub Ambassadors are an essential part of bringing these offices together,” Gilchrist said. “They’re really here to be the face of the Hub for our campus community and our partners.”
Gilchrist hopes the formation of the Hub will mean more students taking advantage of the opportunities that can be found there.
“This really is a one-stop shop,” she said. “For example, say you’re coming here and you want to learn about study-abroad programs. We’ve always had this wonderful program where our career ambassadors from XPD were doing great resume critiques and helping to support the application process.
“But instead of you having to go to two different locations to prep for this one thing, you’re now going to be coming here and you’ll be getting helped all the way through the process. And while you’re here, you’ll also be able to get connected to some undergraduate research opportunities or the mentorship and fellowship programs.
“It will all be in the same space. We’ll see everyone at the Hub!”