Living the Mission: The New Arches Program

As a way to help freshmen with the transition from high school to college, Manhattan College launched the Arches learning and living program in 2011. Listen to the Arches podcast and learn more.

For freshmen, the hardest part of starting college is often the uncertainty of leaving home for the first time, living with a stranger, and battling college-level courses. As a way to help with the transition, Manhattan College launched the Arches learning and living program this year. The program provides students with the opportunity to reside and attend classes together, as well as participate in service-learning experiences and cultural events.

“I decided to do the Arches in hopes that it would help me get better accustomed to not only living on the other side of the country but also getting comfortable at a new college without getting lost,” says Angelica Romero, a freshman from Oregon. “The Arches program definitely helped me feel more comfortable and ready to start college.”

The program evolved as a new way to expand a student’s four-year experience by increasing student interaction, academic and social engagement. The Arches facilitates student growth by fostering a community in which students are encouraged to participate in activities, such as team building, attending presentations by guest speakers and collaborating on assignments.

“The Arches enables even closer relationships to develop and helps to bridge the gap even more so between professors and students,” says Gabrielle Ochiogrosso, assistant director of residence life.

As the founder of the Lasallian Christian Brothers and the patron saint of teachers, John Baptist de La Salle helped to transform education in France during the 17th century, which was achieved through the development of a sustainable community of teachers manifested in the Christian Brothers community. More than 300 years after the founding of the Christian Brothers, the desire for community among 21st century students remains just as important.

This sense of community and a commitment to social justice are two key reasons the Arches program was launched. Richard Satterlee, Ph.D., vice president for student life and one of the original spearheaders of the program, says, “I find it’s really important that we’re making this attempt to engage them on this issue early on and what it means to live our mission.”

This fall, 108 new freshmen arrived on a campus a week earlier than their fellow classmates as part of the inaugural Arches program to participate in a four-day orientation. The orientation consisted of a welcome barbecue with faculty and residential leaders; a full day at a ropes course at Ally Pond doing initiatives and team building; a double-decker bus tour of Manhattan; visits to the Bronx Zoo, the Cloisters and the American Museum of Natural History; and a local scavenger hunt.

“They have adjusted well, and the first week was really helpful,” says Jordan Heath, a learning-living adviser in East Hill and a junior peace studies and communication major. “They are also more comfortable with each other and very eager to take part in campus events, student activities and get involved as freshmen.”

Read the full Arches article in the Fall 2011 M magazine.