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UB sophomores try to do more with (sopho)MORE House

sophomorehouse

A group of about 10 students sits around a large table in the Intercultural and Diversity Center on the second floor of the Student Union while instructor Terri Budek assigns the homework for the week. But the homework students do in this class isn’t research papers or textbook assignments; they’re volunteering efforts and trips to indoor trampoline parks.

(sopho)MORE House is a living and learning class for sophomores living in Greiner Hall. The class is taught once a week in the Intercultural and Diversity Center and aims to teach sophomore students about leadership, diversity and being involved in their community and on campus. Students take the class as a two-part installment in the fall and the spring.

Students said the class has given them the opportunity to work on their leadership, communication and teambuilding skills. Students in the program also volunteer in the community, including working with Re-Tree Buffalo to plant trees in the University Heights.

“It’s all about service and learning, so we’re all interested in volunteering on campus, getting involved and getting to know people,”said Andrew Sweetman, asophomore biological sciences major. “I really like to volunteer. It’s something that I’m passionate about, and this was a great opportunity because we do it as a group.”

The program was started in 2012 with the goal to enhance the sophomore experience. The class is intended to teach students to have more of an appreciation for the university and become a better citizen and leader.

Students take free trips and retreats throughout the year. Students have gone to Sky Zone, where they participate in team building activities such as ropes courses, and to the local YMCA campsites to have an overnight retreat.

A lot of the students in the program come from small towns, so the program aims to integrate students with different cultural backgrounds.

“The goal is to have a sense of family and bring together students who wouldn’t necessarily have met because they have different majors, course loads and personalities. It’s kind of like a breath of fresh air,” said Christy Krawczyk, co-instructor of (sopho)MORE House and a graduate student in the office of Student Engagement. “You’re going to grow as a person. I would consider us to be a family and I think that’s a unique thing on UB’s campus.”

Ely Cuberos, a sophomore biomedical science major, joined (sopho)MORE House to learn how to communicate better.

“I felt scared, like I was just one person, and no one was going to listen to me,” Cuberos said. “But now, I’m not afraid to speak up if I don’t like something. I can express myself.”

Students in the program have a chance for their voices to be heard during in-class group decision making.

The coursework required includes journal entries and reflection papers about the things students experience and read in the class. For one assignment, students set up a mock TED talk and each discussed what leadership meant to them. For another assignment, students picked an initiative they want to address and educate others about it and how they can bring about change.

(sopho)MORE students must enroll in the two-credit Interpersonal Skills for Leading and Serving (UBE 110) course in the fall, which teaches students about leadership, diversity and being involved in their community and on campus.

In the spring, students take Leadership Practicum (UBE 496) – a one-credit course that teaches students how to make positive changes within their community.

The program is competitive, with only 16 spots available. Students are required to have an informal interview with Budek, an associate director in the Intercultural and Diversity Center, assistant director of Student Life and co-instructor of (sopho)MORE House. Budek said she chooses qualified students who will have something to contribute to their community. Students must apply on UB Linked, provide solid references and take personality tests.

Budek said students should join because they “learn how to do more with their time at UB.”

“You get to learn about yourself and the type of leader you want to be,” she said.

Jashonda Williams is a news staff writer. You can reach her at news@ubspectrum.com


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