Western Leaders make difference for WKU’s incoming students

Western Leaders help direct freshmen Sunday as they receive schedules at the Preston Center. More than 2,000 incoming studnets arrived on campus for M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan.

Maciena Justice

Incoming freshmen at WKU needed assistance on Sunday lugging, tugging and hauling boxes, totes and refrigerators to their dorm rooms for the first time.

The task is often hectic for freshmen and their families, but 120 student volunteers were ready to help.

Those volunteers, or Western Leaders, worked to make moving in easier for about 2,200 first-year students participating in the M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan transition program, which runs through the week before classes begin.

“It gives Western a more comfortable feeling when you first show up and you have a friendly face to talk to when you first move in,” said Louisville senior Christian Morton.  “It helps you feel like you’re not all alone.”

Morton has volunteered as a Western Leader counselor for three years now, ever since the group made an impact on the volunteer’s freshman experience.

Blair Silliman, M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan Coordinator, said the Western Leader and M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan programs help provide customer service for the first-year student. 

“We are going to be the first face that those students are going to see, so it’s about getting them excited about being in this new place,” Silliman said. 

Western Leaders must go through an application process and also be in good standing with both Housing and Residence Life and WKU.  They means having a minimum 2.0 GPA and being a responsible, confident and reliable person. 

Silliman said Western Leaders must exhibit a passion for helping others while also having a love for WKU and great communication skills.

Making the transition easier for a first-year student is the goal, said Princeton senior Katelyn Austin.

Austin is on the Western Leaders advisory board that oversees all M.A.S.T.E.R Plan activities. She said that helping with the move-in helps make the transition easier.  

Silliman said another goal of the program is to be an example for the incoming students and show that he or she can be successful at balancing fun and academics.

Huntsville, Ala., senior Ambria Cunningham said that when she participated in the M.A.S.T.E.R Plan program, she felt there was a safety net and that she was able to learn where to go to for food and where her classes were.

“I wanted to be that person that a freshman could come to for where do I go for this and all that kind of stuff,” Cunningham said. “It is important to have the safety net for the incoming freshman because it sucks to be the freshman that gets lost and being late for class.”

Lexington freshman Amber Stephenson said the goals set for Western Leaders were achieved during Sunday’s move-in.

 “Everyone was nice and helpful,” she said. “I wasn’t as stressed, because of the help.”

Her thoughts were echoed by Bardstown freshman Samantha Ulrich.

“They have the 411 and stuff,” Ulrich said. “It’s helpful.”