College can be scary. For many first-year students, it’s a first foray into the adult world, and everything that comes with it — accountability, responsibility, and doing your own laundry. The process of making and following your own schedule can be intimidating, as well — not to mention learning how to live with a virtual stranger. In short, it’s a lot to navigate. At many colleges, new students don’t have a designated person to turn to. At Colby-Sawyer, students have Area Coordinator Haley Besaw.

Besaw, who graduated from college in 2018, understands what it’s like to navigate the first year of college without a guide. At her own undergraduate institution, she said, she was kind of on her own.

“I had a coach that I would just text,” Besaw said, “because most coaches had a texting relationship with their students for those types of questions. But other than that, nobody else from my undergrad reached out to me and was like, ‘Hey, do you need help with this?’ I just kind of figured it out. Being a first-generation college student, it was not easy.’”

Without a designated coordinator, Besaw said it’s up to the individual to find the information they need. Question about a charge on your invoice? Better call financial aid. Got a medical problem? Email health services.

Besaw calls the process of being sent to various campus offices to find the answers to their questions “popcorning,” because it can make students feel like they are being bounced from one office to another. It’s confusing, Besaw said, and it doesn’t help new students form relationships with people they can trust to guide them through the first-year process.

Fortunately, at Colby-Sawyer, Besaw is there to make sure incoming students don’t get ‘popcorned’ around. Besaw has already worked with first-year students in the residence halls for two years. This year, her role is expanding so that she can develop a relationship with the incoming class before they even get to campus.

“The whole goal is that I'm going to be that hub, where I go around to all the different departments gathering information, so if a student has an issue or a question, they can email me and I can help them,” Besaw explained. She said she will continue to make referrals to other offices as needed, but even when that happens, “…they're creating that relationship with me, and I'm with them all year. When they come on campus, it's not, ‘Hi, I'm Haley. I'm your area coordinator.’ It's ‘Hi, I’m Haley. Nice to finally meet you face to face.’”

While Besaw hopes she’ll make a strong bond with every incoming student, she also wants to support each student as they make connections of their own.

“Hopefully, what will happen is that some students will vibe with me, so then I'll be the person they go to if they need academic help, or they're like trying to sign up for a class and it's not working correctly,” Besaw said. “Or I'm going to help them find that faculty or staff member that's really going to be their person while they're here at Colby Sawyer.”