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Penn State BLUEprint Constructing Community For Students Of Color

Deciding where to attend college is a common rite of passage for high school students across the nation. Everything typically goes smoothly, and advisors, teachers, and family often aid the application process and move-in festivities.

However, after the initial excitement wears off, first-year students are often left in limbo. From wondering how to make friends to asking what academic steps to take, new students can easily drown in Penn State’s hustle and bustle.

In an attempt to minimize natural first-year blues, students founded and created BLUEprint, a peer mentorship program designed for first-years and transfers to University Park. The organization, sponsored by the Paul Robeson Cultural Center, focuses primarily on students of color.

“Our main goal is to help students acclimate to the Penn State University Park campus, whether socially, academically, or culturally,” said senior and BLUEprint Mentor Coordinator Trinity Wilkinson Osbourne.

Originally supported by University Health Services, BLUEprint went under the name S-Plan until 2015. The organization was then moved to the HUB, under the Paul Robeson Cultural Center (PRCC) and renamed. While some aspects were kept the same, like the mentor-mentee mission, the relocation helped BLUEprint grow an identity and expand. Today, over 100 students belong to the organization.

Courtesy of Trinity Wilkinson Osbourne

Through a match-making program, new students are paired with upperclassmen, typically a junior or senior who has been in BLUEprint. The mentorships build the BLUEprint family, forging “families” within the club and establishing connections between members of all ages and backgrounds.

Within academics, BLUEprint helps members make use of Penn State Learning. Many mentors are certified peer mentors in the College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA) to encourage sustained success in the club and as an individual.

As for the social benefits, the families in BLUEprint provide new students with a smaller community to bond with. The club also often engages in team-building exercises and friendly, competitive events with one another throughout the year.

“It kind of gives you a sense of pride. You have your family chant, your family motto, so last year, I was a family leader. We were the Crimson Court,” Wilkinson Osbourne said. “It’s something that you can be proud of, and really, really excited to be in the program.”

Mentor coordinators also tend to focus on teaching topics like self-care, bias, and identity, and host professional development events like resume workshops.

“We do a lot for our cohorts. We want to make sure that you’re not only acclimating, just culturally or socially, but you also have the resources to succeed as students and future professionals as well,” Wilkinson Osbourne said.

Wilkinson Osbourne described joining BLUEprint as similar to a “warm hug” and gave her a soft place to land upon her arrival in Happy Valley.

“Personally, it was a culture shock when I got here. We want to provide some form of community that a lot of minority students need here at Penn State,” Wilkinson Osborne said.

Mentee applications for interested members open at the beginning of each school year. Future events and updates can be found on BLUEprint’s Instagram.

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About the Author

Marie Moyer

Marie is a fourth-year student majoring in journalism and minoring in sociology. She loves being fiscally irresponsible at local farmers markets, watching niche documentaries on HBO, and going to Penn State hockey games as "self-care." You can reach her on Instagram - @_mariemoyer_ or send her suggestions (and cat photos) via her email - [email protected].

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