The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Campus Life First-Year Experience Buddy Programme is open for applications from interested students for the 2022 academic year.
The Buddy Programme is an initiative organised by the University Campus Life Office aimed to ease the transition for first-year students by linking them with senior students of the university.
The buddies will be introduced to each other during the University’s orientation week, scheduled for March 2022. This enables first-year students to adjust to their new learning environment.
First Year Experience Coordinator, Prakashni Ram, said the Buddy Programme was specifically tailor-made for first-year students to become familiar with university life.
“These buddies are well trained and have the necessary resources to help these first-year students,” she said.
“The buddies help create comforting peer support to these students. The buddies have specific criteria to fulfill throughout the year and provide reports at the end of the year detailing the activities carried out with first-year students.”
Students need a GPA of 3.0 and above, good interpersonal and communication skills, be a team player, and have a passion for helping others to become a buddy.
“While the Buddy Programme is a volunteer-based programme, there are many perks and rewards for their hard work,” Ms Ram said.
“The buddies have their own space on campus with modern facilities and they also receive free data and talk time, sponsored by Vodafone Fiji. At the end of the year, the buddies are invited to the “Buddy Awards Night”, where they are awarded for their hard work through the year.”
Ms Ram explained that during orientation week, the buddies signed up about 15-20 first-year students and become their ‘Buddy’ for the year. The buddies report the activities undertaken throughout the year after which reports are marked to determine the Westpac Buddy of the Year.
Apart from the Westpac Buddy of the Year award, various other awards such as the first and second runner up, ten outstanding awards and five special recognition awards are given to exceptional buddy students.
Aniket Krishna Prasad was last year’s Westpac Buddy of the Year award winner.
He scooped the award along with a $2500 cash prize from Westpac Fiji.
“My experience from the assistance I received from my buddy during my first year inspired me to join,” he said.
“The programme allowed me to assist first-year students while giving me the chance to improve my communication skills boosting my confidence. This prepared me well for life after university.
“I am genuinely grateful to the University for providing such a platform. Not only do we get to help our fellow first-year students but we get so much in return and the award is just one of them.”
Prasad added that he was grateful to Westpac Fiji for the opportunity and hoped to inspire others to undertake similar initiatives.
Since the last four years, Westpac Banking Corporation has been the lead sponsor of the Buddy of the Year Award. Previously, the Buddy of the Year was treated to an all-expenses-paid trip to an international institution to observe their orientation week. Last year, however, the prize money was reduced to $2500 from the usual $5000 fully supported trip due to the pandemic.
Ms Ram said she looks forward to guiding more students during the programme in 2022 and hopes that Prasad’s win would inspire buddies to work hard and win the prestigious award.