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Sophomore starts RSO to help guide first-year students

by Chuck Gordon

After an up-and-down freshman year, Tyauna Bailey started casting about for a way to help students make a smoother transition to university life. She wound up founding LEAD, a registered student organization that focuses on mentorship and professional development.

Tyauna Bailey entered Wingate full of optimism, and her first month or two were a blast. But at some point she became somewhat disoriented. She endured a bit of social drama, and she wasn’t satisfied with her academic performance.

She was seven hours away from her home outside of Baltimore and in need of a mentor.

“I went through that transition from high-school mentality to college mentality, and it was the hardest thing for me trying to figure it out on my own,” Bailey says. “I feel if I had a mentor to walk me through that it would have been a smoother transition.”

Embodying the ethos of “be the change you wish to see in the world,” Bailey came up with a solution. Just before the 2019 fall semester began, she founded Leaders Encouraging, Accepting and Developing (LEAD), a registered student organization that pairs freshmen with returning students to give them someone to lean on in their first year at university.

LEAD members at a Nerf-war event

The group has become a support system for its 15 members and is branching out into professional development as well as mentorship. In February, LEAD and the business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi will put on a fashion show on campus.

So far, LEAD has had regular meetings every other week, in addition to a couple of planned bonding activities, such as a Nerf-gun war at Wingate United Methodist Church. Members have also volunteered to be mentors at Wingate Elementary School, helping out with Heart for Monroe’s Men and Women in the Making program.

During meetings, students discuss experiences they’ve had recently and get feedback from the group. Bailey also plans activities designed to boost members’ confidence. For example, at the first meeting they made posters using text-message emojis each group member had used recently. “Your most-recently used emojis will tell you a lot about your personality and what it is that you do on a daily basis,” Bailey says. “It was fun. We also talked about what self-awareness is and how it can make you more confident. The next step is confidence and self-acceptance.”

Using LEAD to get back on track

Bailey could have used a shot of confidence last spring. She’s at Wingate on a track-and-field scholarship, and the sprinter performed well last season, earning all-South Atlantic Conference honors as a member of the Bulldog 4x100-meter relay team.

But although she was doing well on the track and had turned her academics around, the marketing major was somewhat adrift socially. Brainstorming solutions, she hit upon the idea of starting a club, or registered student organization (RSO), to help freshmen adjust to college life.

Bailey started planning LEAD while she was living on campus for the summer. She worked with staff members in Residence Life to fill out the required paperwork and find faculty advisors for the organization, and she signed up members by setting up a stall at Street Fair during Welcome Week.

Bailey set up LEAD so freshmen can have someone to guide them through their first year, and after an up-and-down first year of college, she is becoming adept at being that guide. When students ask her for advice about a certain situation, she doesn’t simply provide a pat answer.

“I ask them how would they fix it,” she says. “They give me an answer, and I might say, ‘That doesn’t sound productive. What if you do that and this happens?’ Kind of give them a scenario. We’ll talk about it. I’ve learned not to force my opinion on people. I just kind of ask questions and have them come up with the answer on their own.”

She’s now faced with questions of a different sort, as she helps plan the February fashion show. The show is designed to help LEAD members’ professional development, with each member of the group working on the show in some capacity.

Bailey and her mother have both worked as runway models in years past, but putting on a show is a different beast from appearing in one. Bailey is working on scheduling, talking to clothing designers, holding model calls and lining up caterers and between-segment talent. “This is the first time I’ve ever put on something this big,” she says. “I can make a party, but I have never done anything this huge.”

That’s OK. That’s what she’s here for: to learn and gain experience. “College is literally supposed to prepare you for your future,” she says. With the help of Delta Sigma Pi and her friends in LEAD, Bailey is feeling pretty good about that future now.

To find an RSO to join, or to register one of your own, check out WUSync.

Oct. 23, 2019

  • Blue&Gold Bulletin