Q & A with Kelsey Colarusso

What drew you to enroll in Academic Foundations? How did you hear about the opportunity?

My academic advisor highly recommended the course to me because I was so new to Pittsburgh. We both agreed that learning a bit more about the campus I would be attending for the next four years of my life and the community it is located in would be an excellent idea for me!

Describe what you did in your Academic Foundations course. What was the experience like?

At the beginning of the term, we did some team building activities so that everyone could get to know each other a little bit better and to make everyone feel more comfortable in the class. After that we were assigned a partner (or small group) and told to pick an office on campus that was of interest to us. There were a lot of different offices chosen for this project; offices from the Study Abroad Office to Panther Central to the Student Health Center were visited and reported on to the class. My partner and I chose the Career Center in the William Pitt Union. We learned a bit about the services that the office provides and then explained those services and the importance of the office to our peers in class.

Then of course there was the Neighborhood Project, which I absolutely loved! My group (of three others) and I were assigned to the Cultural District and were highly encouraged to see a show or a play. Being a wiz kid with computers, I was able to find a light show for free! My group mates were a tad bit skeptical but by the time the show was over, they said that they enjoyed it. We presented a solid and informative project the following week!

What did you find to be the most valuable part of the Academic Foundations course?

Getting to hear input from the panel of upperclass students in different majors was certainly helpful. In my class specifically, my Undergraduate Teaching Assistant (UTA) brought in people from all sorts of majors—from business to psychology to a student on the pre-physical therapy track. Hearing from all of those different people in different majors really opened my eyes to all that the Dietrich school can offer me. They also stressed not to worry about changing your major, saying that it takes time to know what it is that you are passionate about. They advised us to try new things and branch out with our courses.

Do you feel that taking the Academic Foundations course you find a community of students on campus as a first year student?

I had a few of my fellow Academic Foundations’ students in some of my other classes. I found that once we finally figured out that we had other similar classes, we were more likely to reach out to one another when we were struggling or had a question that pertained to our shared class.

Did Academic Foundations help you transition to college? If so, how?

I learned a lot more about the campus through this class, such as where I could go or who I could turn to if I needed help with literally anything! This alleviated a lot of stress in trying to figure all of that out for myself and instead gave the information I would need to be successful before I even needed it.

Why did you decide to become an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant after completing the course?

I enjoyed the course tremendously. I had an amazing UTA who helped me decide to try a new major and helped me really understand that it’s ok to not know what it is that you want to do in your first year, as long as you are trying to figure it out. I want to pass the knowledge that she gave to me on to future first-year students and to continue to help grow a stronger Pitt community.

What would you say to an incoming student considering taking Academic Foundations?

This is a great opportunity to learn more about the Pitt campus and the Pittsburgh community! Participate in the class activities, enjoy the experience, and soak up all that you can; You never truly know what will become important for you to have in your back pocket later in your college career.