Connecting with Professor Christina Gard on SEU’s Campus Mentoring Program

From meeting new friends during Welcome Week to cheering on the Fire alongside thousands of fans at Victory Field, there are plenty of ways on campus to get plugged in and build lifelong friendships.One of the best ways to build authentic relationships during your time at SEU is participating in the Connect mentoring program. One of the best ways to build authentic relationships during your time at SEU is participating in the Connect mentoring program. Connect Groups gives students the opportunity to meet an hour each week in a small-group setting with an SEU faculty or staff member. A typical meeting could include Bible study, prayer, life stories and group activities such as paintball, dinner, movies or sporting events.

We recently had a chance to sit down with Professor Christina Gard, a faculty member in our College of Behavioral & Social Sciences, who brought the Connect mentoring program to Southeastern in 2012.

SEU: What was your vision for Connect Groups?
Christina Gard: I thought Connect Groups would be more of a formal and structured setting, but really, it’s people just doing life together and growing with one another. Tonight, I’m having my Connect Group over to my house. We’ll be eating pizza together and watching Frozen.

SEU: How have Connect Groups affected the Southeastern community?
Christina Gard: Before Connect Groups, the number one reason students didn’t have a mentor on campus was because they were too afraid to ask. There seemed to be an invisible barrier between the students and faculty and staff, and we wanted to see that line blurred. The excitement that students now have as they head to their Connect Groups for the first time is so rewarding to see. The intimidation factor between the students and faculty has completely disappeared.

SEU: How have the mentors responded to being a part of Connect Groups?
Christina Gard: The thing I was surprised by was how much the staff and faculty enjoy being a part of the mentoring program. They are genuinely here for our students. No one is being paid to do this, and many go above and beyond their 10-hour requirement per semester. They are choosing to do this in addition to all the classes they teach. I think it’s because they just love and care about our students.