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A better way to live and learn

Posted midnight Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024

Students in the Education LLC got together in mid-December to enjoy treats and refreshments while getting in some last-minute studying.

Living Learning Community brings SOE students closer together

A new program allows UW-La Crosse education students to live and learn together as they embark on their college careers. 

UWL’s Education Living Learning Community (LLC) launched in Sanford Hall during the 2023 fall semester, with the goal of providing first-year students in the School of Education (SOE) an opportunity to grow together. 

The Education LLC seeks to support students by fostering a sense of belonging and care, creating connections to the broader La Crosse community, and providing networking opportunities — all through academic and cocurricular programming designed to harness students’ potential as future educators. 

“We’re very intent on creating a sense of belonging among every member of the School of Education, and the LLC is an extension of that,” says Michelle Sylvester, equity advisor and recruiter for the SOE. “We have students enrolled in all different programs across campus, and the LLC helps us get everyone together under one roof and break down those barriers. It’s about creating that sense of community.” 

The Education LLC enrolled about 10 students in its first semester, and leaders are hopeful that number will grow.

Owen Lapp, resident assistant for the Education LLC

Led by Resident Assistant Owen Lapp, the group held several meetings and group activities throughout the fall — including an ice cream social at the start of the year and opportunities for students to connect with faculty and learn more about various classes and departments. 

As the needs of students evolve, Lapp says, so will the Education LLC. 

“We like to get input from the students themselves to see what kinds of experiences they would like to get out of being in the LLC,” says Lapp, a senior majoring in elementary and middle education. “Our goal is to ease the transition of new students into the major and provide them with experiences that will help them both now in college, and later after graduation.” 

The program is already a hit among the first cohort. 

Alli Rickaby, an elementary/middle special education major from Nekoosa, says she enrolled in the Education LLC to connect with students who share her interests. 

“I have enjoyed getting to know other education majors through fun team building exercises,” Rickaby says. “Through these activities, I have gained ideas to bring into my future classroom to offer my students to form connections between their peers and myself.” 

“I enrolled in the Education LLC because it was a chance to get to know other education majors and to make friends in the first weeks of school,” says Bailey Hauck, an early childhood education major from Cameron. “The LLC held a small event where we did some team-building activities, and it was really fun. There were some difficult ones that had us all laughing. Overall, it’s always been a fun time!” 

The Education LLC is just the latest such program at UWL, which also offers LLCs for women in STEM programs, students who identify as LGBTQ, first-generation college students and more. 

Nationwide, LLCs have been embraced as a way to provide students with a supportive peer group, along with great access to faculty and staff who aid students in their education and career journeys. 

And there is mounting evidence that LLCs are effective. Students who participate in LLCs report higher GPAs than students who live in traditional residence hall communities. 

“This is something that personally appealed to me because it gives me an opportunity to spend time with students outside the classroom and get to know them on a different level,” says Valerie Krage, associate teaching professor of educational studies. “Some of these students I won’t end up having in class, so this gives us a chance to connect that we wouldn’t have otherwise.” 


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