The Arkansas Student Affairs Association (ArSAA) on Sept. 25 recognized two connected Hendrix College programs, Student Outreach Services (SOS) and Student Outreach Alternative Resources (SOAR), with its inaugural Outstanding Innovative Program Award.
This newly created honor, one of four awards given annually by ArSAA, recognizes an institution that has developed and implemented a program resulting in improved educational activities, services, or management for an individual campus community.
Student Outreach Services, or SOS, is a unique and progressive program designed to support students as they transition from high school and home life to college and future life through a structured, collaborative, and confidential process. The SOS representative carries out a holistic and total wellness conversation with a student before connecting them with needed programs, services, and individuals for personal, social, and community life options.
SOS Director Christy Coker, a licensed life strategies coach and former instructor, works individually with each student to establish personal, social, and multi-community goals through individual planning. Students find that the entire process provides supported introspection to enhance their evolution to the role of young adult. Self-contracting to achieve those goals keeps the responsibility for personal growth with the student, empowering the student to take control of their future in positive, proactive ways.
SOS sponsors a practical, hands-on and dedicated group of students on campus via Student Outreach Alternative Resources, or SOAR. The SOAR Team is composed of upperclassmen who are campus leaders wanting to make a difference in the lives of incoming students by serving as peer mentors—not in the academic sense, but in the social world of the Hendrix community.
Each SOAR team member has completed training and/or certification in:
- Mentoring 101, which defines a mentor as an individual who is a knowledgeable and experienced guide, a trusted ally and advocate, and a caring role model. An effective mentor is respectful, reliable, patient, trustworthy, and a very good listener and communicator.
- Mental Health First Aid, a process of how to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. The training helps these peer mentors to identify, understand, and respond to signs of addiction and mental illnesses.
- Escalation Violence, aka #ThatsNotLove Campaign, a short and shareable series of digital content in five unique chapters that shine a spotlight on unhealthy or emotionally abusive relationship behaviors—or the gray area between love and control. The training teaches peer mentors how to safely intervene and educate peers when factors indicate “That’s Not Love!”
- safeTALK, training in how to notice and respond to situations where suicidal thoughts might be present; recognize that invitations for help are often overlooked; move beyond the common tendency to miss, dismiss, and avoid suicide; apply the TALK steps: Tell, Ask, Listen, and KeepSafe; and have a comprehensive knowledge of community resources and how to connect someone having thoughts of suicide to those resources for further help.
- Learning how to identify acceptable versus unacceptable actions and behaviors under Title IX, which protects people in education programs or activities from discrimination based on sex, and to make sure students and those affecting life in the campus community follow campus policy and procedures.
- LGBTQ+ Terminology & Awareness, providing opportunities to learn about LGBTQ+ identities, gender and sexuality, and examine prejudice, assumptions, and privilege. SOAR mentors are not only diverse and inclusive as a team, but they appreciate and respect diversity across a multitude of life demographics.
- Emotional Intelligence, a session assisting the SOAR Team members in enhancing their capacity of individuals to recognize their own, and other people’s emotions, and to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.
- Campus Safety is a program on campus sponsored by the Office of Public Safety, which provides a safe environment for the college community and visitors. SOAR is a collaborative supporter of this program to ensure the entire community works together to keep everyone safe.
SOAR organizes one-on-one personal and social peer mentoring program on campus, second Saturday suppers, off-campus social events, alternative (to the big campus parties) events, and other collaborative events as needed on campus. They are a primary source of referring students for services, programs, events, and to professionals.
Parents, faculty, staff, siblings, friends, acquaintances, and others may make student referrals for SOAR through the SOS office at SOS@hendrix.edu or 501-450-1330. Students often refer themselves, too.
The mission of SOS and SOAR is to engage all segments of the Hendrix College student population by connecting with peer mentors, services, resources, programs, networks, interventions, and/or prevention to increase successful holistic and positive student experiences throughout their time in the Hendrix community.
The SOS and SOAR motto: “We will either find a way, or make one.” — Hannibal of Carthage
By creating new avenues via one-on-one confidential conversations, unique and different interpersonal relationships, participating in alternative activities for those who want to start out more slowly in social acclimation than the campus-wide party, and moving around in smaller group activities to help achieve self-confidence in a big, new world, the SOAR peer mentors provide a safe, fun experience for new students. This helps first-year students build a stronger, more fluid transition into college life, making SOAR a refreshing haven of good friendships and lasting memories.