New podcast series shares stories about navigating first year at Northwestern

Kelley Czajka, Reporter

The First-Year Experience initiative within the Office of New Student and Family Programs recently created “This Northwestern Life,” a podcast series in which students can share their stories about transitioning into life at Northwestern.

FYE and NSFP created the podcast after hearing many freshmen talk about personal growth and their challenges navigating the NU community, often through an unrealistic lens, FYE Director Josh McKenzie said in the first podcast.

“There’s so many paths and directions that students take in their first year here, and everyone has a different narrative, and that’s exactly what we want to do, to share with you, through this series, different stories to help us understand how we each experience this community and journey differently, but in so many instances strangely similar,” McKenzie said in the podcast.

FYE has released two episodes, each featuring three students who talk about a certain topic relating to the transition. There are four more episodes in the works, with the next one to be released before the end of Fall Quarter, said Nicole Reed, the graduate assistant for FYE.

Reed told The Daily that FYE is trying to choose podcast topics that are relevant to first-year students’ lives, including figuring out one’s identity, finding a social circle and getting acclimated to campus.

“Because our audience is first-year students, we’re trying to think about things that would impact them,” she said.

McKenzie delegated the execution of the series to Reed when she started working for FYE in July, she said.

To find student participants for the podcast, Reed said she sent out a survey to Peer Advisers and first-year students. She said FYE has had a good response from PAs, but it has been harder to find freshmen to participate. However, one upcoming episode will include a freshman, and Reed said she hopes to find more.

The first podcast, which was released during Wildcat Welcome, focused on the topic of identity. In the episode, Weinberg senior Calvin Dorsey spoke about how he created an unrealistic image of who he thought he should be in college during his first Fall Quarter at NU.

“It would mean something to me if other people learned that college doesn’t have to be entirely different from high school in the sense that you can be involved in different things and still have similar values or similar relationships with people,” Dorsey told The Daily.

The first episode was released during PA Camp, and all of the Peer Advisers listened to the podcast together. Dorsey, a two-year PA, said the other PAs were supportive of it, and people in NSFP were especially happy with it.

Reed said feedback from students and faculty has been overwhelmingly positive so far.

“Podcasts are a thing that is kind of big and what people like to listen to in general, so we’ve heard some good feedback just about the way it sounds and our general purpose of trying to get these stories out,” she said.

Now that the second episode has been released, the podcast is picking up speed, Reed said. She said the goal is for the podcast to reach as many first-year students as possible.

“We’re really excited about it and we hope that students are too and that they continue to listen and share their feedback,” Reed said. “If there’s anything that they want us to talk about, or feel like we’re leaving out, that feedback is definitely appreciated.”

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