FASP Community, Virtually Everywhere!
Posted September 30, 2020
For those close to the Forty Acres Scholars Program, you are familiar with its endearing acronym: “FASP.” During this socially distanced semester, it can be difficult for students to make connections and find community—especially freshman students, as the opportunities for in-person extracurriculars through student organizations, intramural sports, dormitory events, and more have been eliminated.
One of the three tenets of the Forty Acres Scholars Program is Community. We take this aspect of the Program very seriously and strive to create a family-like environment for our Scholars over their four years in the Program. Although nearly all of our programming has gone virtual this semester, it has been heartening to see the strength of our FASP community persisting among our Scholars.
Each semester, we kick off the semester with an All Scholar Meeting. Since our Program has nearly 70 current scholars, it wasn’t feasible to bring everyone together in person for a dinner and games, so we took the annual event virtual. Not only did we gather online—we had a costume party online! Scholars joined the meeting in their best DIY costumes, complete with props and costume makeup. We wanted them to have a fun, typical college experience, and offer a unique way to make an online event more interesting!
Scholars have been busy this season planning cohort hangouts over Zoom and via outdoor picnics to help them stay connected and involved in each others’ lives. When they enter into this Program, they truly do join a family of Scholars who care about each other and enjoy spending time with each other.
The Scholar Buddy Program that we implemented this semester pairs every freshman Scholar with an upperclassman Scholar. The older Scholars act as a FASP mentor who can answer the freshmen’s questions, talk with them about concerns, and introduce them to their own favorite places on campus and around Austin!
Another aspect of the FASP programming includes Wellness Wednesdays, a midday Wednesday activity once a month designed to promote physical, mental, and emotional wellness. Recently, a handful of Scholars took part in a private online yoga session together led by Texas Exes’ Director of Creative Services and certified yoga instructor, Amber Byfield.
One fun fact about our community that many people don’t realize is that each year, many of our Scholars decide to live together as roommates, making their FASP community their home community as well. We believe this is a testament to the deep level of friendship (and trust!) our Scholars form with each other.
We want to reassure all those who are part of our extended FASP family that despite the current circumstances, FASP community is “virtually everywhere!” Thank you to everyone involved who makes this Program possible. Your time, donations, and expertise have certainly helped our Scholars maintain some normalcy and continue to build community during this fall semester.