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Making A Difference

Bolstering the First-Year Experience

Douglas Henck ’74

Photo by Philip Scalia

One of the goals of The Rensselaer Plan is to create an engaging student experience, one that begins with a commitment to students’ success from their earliest contact with the Institute. Since its creation in 2001, the Office of the First-Year Experience (FYE) has transformed the student orientation process to help students build a connection to Rensselaer that begins freshman year and continues throughout undergraduate life.

Now, this award-winning program has gained its first endowed program fund with the creation of the Patricia and Louis Bellardo ’67 Fund for the First-Year Experience, a gift to support the Renaissance at Rensselaer Campaign.

“We are so happy to have these resources available to us, because they will provide that extra measure of support for student programs — and the students deserve it,” says Lisa Trahan, dean of FYE.

FYE administers a comprehensive array of programs for students as well as for parents and families. These include the Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond orientation program, Family Weekend, community service days, the Information and Personal Assistance Center, and the Community Advocate program, along with other community action initiatives, programs, and publications designed to help students and their families “navigate” Rensselaer.

“We are committed to our students’ success,” says Trahan. “We involve their parents and families, and we are here to be their ‘safety net.’ We manage an early warning counseling and advising system, working with staff in residence life, public safety, and other student support services so that we can be responsive to their needs.”

Bellardo earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Rensselaer. He is a director of manufacturing technology for Cisco Systems, and assists in facilitating the company’s corporate relationship with Rensselaer, including the Cisco Academy, a provider of advanced hands-on learning in networking. He also is a member of the Rensselaer Key Executives and the Palmer C. Ricketts Society of the Patroons of Rensselaer.

Related Link:
Office of the First-Year Experience

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