FIG leader

What It Takes To Be a FIG Leader at FSU With Grant Gibbs

Adjusting to college is unarguably difficult for new students. With the coronavirus pandemic adding a little spice to the situation, making new friends and discovering new opportunities at college seems nearly impossible for freshmen. The picture below reminds of me how lonely it can get in such a big, new place like a college campus or college town. Like the buildings in the picture, college is all-consuming and intimidating, but finding the right group of people can make all the difference.

tall buildings during daytime Photo by Benjamin Suter from Unsplash By being part of Florida State University’s Freshman Interest Group (FIG) program, being fresh meat in an unknown place becomes a little easier to adjust and manage. I’m in the English FIG group with 19 other students who are all either English or Film majors. Therefore, we all have common interests. We take four courses together, including the FIG Colloquium, and with a steady group of friends, the world seems much less vast and empty. As a way to help advertise the FIG program and all its benefit to other students, I interviewed my own FIG leader, Grant Gibbs.

Grant is a senior at FSU, majoring in Media Communications Studies and minoring in Film Studies. He describes the FIG program as a cluster of classes that freshmen can enroll in based on what they’re interested in. There are FIGs for a wide variety of subjects such as pre-law, pre-med, business, communications, engineering, etc. In addition to the cluster of classes, there’s a weekly colloquium taught by the FIG leader who provides their “figlets” or students with different resources that can help them transition into college and FSU life. FIGs revolve around creating a sense of community amongst the figlets and their leader. I asked Grant a series of questions to develop a detailed comprehensive concept of the FIG program.

Her Campus (HC): What does being a FIG leader mean to you?

Grant Gibbs (GG): I think I would’ve wanted to be in a FIG my freshman year because I came from New Jersey and I didn’t really know anyone, so having this kind of resource would’ve given me a head start. I was lucky to have cheer going into college, so that was my thing. But if I hadn’t had cheer then I wouldn’t have had anything. I think being in a FIG would’ve given me that one step forward or a push in the door. On being a FIG leader, I want to be able to help freshmen. College is such a huge transition. I want to aid them in their transition, let them know that they’re not alone in feeling alone and tell them that what they’re going through is completely normal.

HC: What do you hope to achieve by being a FIG leader?

GG: I hope that my students gain something from the FIG and, if I feel like I or the program have helped them in a way, I feel like I have achieved something. I don’t expect everyone to be floored by the program, but as long as it helps them in some capacity then I feel like I’ve done my job.

HC: What are the most important lessons you want to teach your student before the course ends?

GG: Definitely that getting involved with FSU is probably the easiest way to make you feel less alone; it gives you more purpose as well as pride in being a part of FSU. I want to show them how to get involved. I know it’s hard with the coronavirus now, but it’s still achievable. I want to build a community. Even though we’re all socially distanced in the classroom, I hope that some people hang out outside the classroom, have group chats or maybe want to live together next year. I want my figlets to know that if they feel alone there’s probably someone in the classroom only a couple of seats down that feels the exact same way. 

HC: What do you think freshmen students are struggling with the most? How do you plan to guide them towards positive solutions?

GG: Definitely COVID-related stuff and more specifically getting involved during a pandemic. It feels weird with everything being virtual and trying to get involved. A lot of students mention that they don’t know how to make friends or find their people. This is really sad to me because even though everyone struggles with this at first, it’s now so much more heightened due to the pandemic. All I can do is point you guys to each other and to the school’s resources. This FIG class is the only class you guys have in person. You go to similar classes, you have the same classwork and that is such an advantage. A lot of freshmen don’t have this community to fall back on. I want my students to know that they can be each other’s people.

HC: How does the FIG program benefit freshmen?

GG: It gives freshmen resources that a lot of them do not even know about. Without a FIG, you would have to do a lot more digging and searching for certain resources on your own. The FIG kind of lays it out for you. My students know about things such as Nole Central; freshmen who are not in a FIG likely may not know what that is. The community aspect gives you a group of potential friends that could last a lifetime.

HC: How would you convince incoming freshmen to enroll in the FIG program?

GG: If you’re interested in a topic, FIGs are helpful because your FIG leader is most likely knowledgeable in your areas of interest. If you have a specific route you want to take, or simply an interest, a FIG is definitely something to get involved in. The FIG can get you involved in stuff that can fulfill that interest. The program is a giant resource; if you don’t know where to go for something on campus you can just ask your FIG leader, or maybe it’ll come up in your FIG class.

HC: What do you hope to learn or gain by being a FIG leader?

GG: I am always about hearing other people’s perspectives. My college experience and freshman year are a lot different than yours is. Hearing or feeling my students’ struggles helps me learn more about what you guys are experiencing. I hope I can change someone’s college career path or put them on the right track to a successful experience at FSU. I think a lot of people don’t find their place here at first and there’s that time period where a lot of freshmen want to transfer. When I was a freshman, I was saying I want to transfer. It might not feel right at first, but trying out all of these resources on campus ultimately builds a love for the place. I hope that freshmen can push forward through this horrible time and be able to find their place on campus because there’s literally a place for everyone here. People are afraid of the major changes college brings, and some people can’t handle it. If you push through, I think it makes you a more mature and overall better person. You learn more about yourself and end up finding something that you absolutely love at FSU in the process.

At the end of the interview, I asked Grant if he wanted to give any last advertisements for the program, this is what he said:

“The FIG program is like someone holding your hand through the first semester of college, which is the hardest part of college because you have no idea what you are doing. You have a whole program that can be catered towards your interests guiding you through the struggles. You have an upperclassman that’s ready to drop everything to answer any needs that you have. You get credit for this course. We want you to find your home here and hopefully, a FIG gives you an advantage that other students may lack. I feared that being socially distanced from each other would hinder your abilities to become friends.”

I assured him that we have all been able to become friends with his guidance and activities. He finishes off by saying, “So like why the heck wouldn’t you do it?”

If you want to learn more about becoming a FIG leader or a figlet, FSU’s FIG program is just a click away.

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