Student Health and Wellness Services and Counseling & Psychological Services launched the Bronco Kindness Project to encourage Cal Poly Pomona students to write and receive positive letters from each other anonymously.
Carla Jackson, a health educator for Student Health and Wellness Center, and Jennifer Kohagura, a psychologist for CAPS, collaborated during the summer to ensure this service was available to all CPP students at the start of this semester. The main goal for the program is to build up student resilience in difficult circumstances.
“We hope that this program will help give students a boost when they are feeling frustration, loneliness or a sense of disconnection from others by knowing that someone at their school wrote a letter to help them during this stressful time,” said Jackson.
For CPP students, remote learning posed an obstacle to their connection with the campus community. Most student interactions held through online class lectures and virtual meetings hosted by campus organizations left students longing for one-on-one interactions with fellow Broncos.
CPP students interested in participating in the service submit a form where they input their basic demographics, affiliations and interests. If a student requests a letter, the Kindness Project team separates recipients by their years, major and interest to select a letter that will best suit the recipient.
“Cal Poly Pomona is very diverse when it comes to its students, educational programs and organization, so I feel that many students are finding it hard to embrace the atmosphere of the campus remotely,” said Jackson.
Jackson and Kohagura explained that approximately 60 students have signed up for the service. At that rate, they estimated it would be a week or two for students to receive a letter through email.
Fifth-year computer engineering student, Kevin Worsley, wrote a letter intended for a student that is in their first year at CPP. He explained that his letter generally applied to a student of any major and focused on support.
“Many seniors and super seniors, like me, have a job or graduation to look forward to, so my letter was intended for newer Broncos,” said Worsley. “They are already trying to adjust to a college environment, and COVID-19 is making it even harder on them.”
Jackson believed that the “refreshing and meaningful” intentions of the Bronco Kindness Project encouraged many returning students to participate in the service to fill the void left without campus interactions.
For second-year psychology student Daelynn Soto, this marks the second time she’s written a letter during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last semester, she participated in the external virtual event promoted by ASI’s Bronco Events and Activities Team called “Tea and Letter Writing: To Our Elders,” hosted by the Japanese American National Museum.
“I wanted to use this service so I could spread kindness, bring some positivity into someone’s day and make another student smile, especially for new students that haven’t experienced campus life,” Soto said.
As for the Bronco Kindness Project, Kohagura elaborated on how she and Jackson intend to incorporate unique themes for students to use when writing their correspondence. Some examples include letters of encouragement during finals week or topics to celebrate different holidays throughout the year.
Kohagura voiced how she wishes for the program to expand beyond Student Health and Wellness Services and CAPS; she explained that the Bronco Kindness Project provides a list of campus organizations at the bottom of the website. This list offers students more ways to become further involved with their campus community.
“I feel it would be a great idea if a student organization can take up the mantle and organize an official pen pal event or service, where students can build an ongoing connection with another student that share common interests or demographics with them,” said Kohagura.
Visit https://www.cpp.edu/health/wellness-center/bronco-kindness.shtml to participate in the Bronco Kindness Project and learn more about the service.
(Feature image courtesy of Carla Jackson)
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