Belonging, Social Connection and Community

polar bears

Ludia Ock '19

In the fall of 2014, the Mental Health and Wellness Committee (MHAWC) held a series of focus groups with students to learn more about their experiences with belonging, social connection and community at Amherst, and wrote a report highlighting central themes. In these conversations, students shared some of the difficulties they’d encountered here and said that if they’d heard more about students’ social and academic challenges when they first arrived on campus, they would have felt more prepared and less alone. We listened to them and created a compilation of letters from upperclassmen to incoming students, describing how they had overcome social and academic challenges and what they had learned in the process. After the reading, students were asked to write themselves a letter of encouragement. This booklet is a selection of writings taken from new students' letters to themselves that they have given consent to share. We hope that you find meaning, commonality and encouragement in their words.