Linked UP! program helps students find a family at Kent State

Erica Fowler

Creating a welcoming environment for new students has always been an essential part of the  Linked UP! program offered by the Office of Diversity Outreach and Development. The mentorship program, which is open to all majors, aims to help students develop academic and professional skills.

“When I was a freshman, it was a big help, especially as a first-generation student,” said Desiree Stribling, a junior speech pathology and audiology student.

The program helped Stribling navigate Kent State as a new student by connecting her with the right people and resources. “My mentor, for example, helped me get a research position at the lab where she worked when I was a freshman,” Stribling said.

The program also established Stribling’s first network of friends at the university. “I feel like they were kind of my first family coming to Kent State,” Stribling said. “They are just so welcoming to all walks of life, and they are the nicest people I’ve ever met.”

In addition to pairing up undergraduate students with upperclassmen and other professionals, Linked UP! hosts various workshops throughout the semester to help students reach success.

“What we do is create opportunities for students to build on academic and professional competencies,” said Daniel Diaz Nilsson, the director of the Office of Diversity Outreach and Development. “So, for example, we look at networking, public speaking, resume building, understanding research and connecting with faculty.”

The program also aims to provide ways for students to use the skills they have learned in real settings.

“It’s one thing to learn how to network, do your elevator speech and resume,” Nilsson said, “but it’s really important that we give students not only the skills, but also the opportunities to practice them.”

Linked UP! wants to help students cope with the stress and challenges that come with school and applying for internships or jobs.

“We really want to help our students ease that anxiety and help them develop their own plans going forward,” graduate assistant Vincent Consiglio said. Consiglio’s primary role is establishing and managing mentorship programs for Linked UP! “This year, we want to put more of an element of easing some of their concerns and helping students feel prepared,” Consiglio said. “That way, they can go to these events and really shine.”

More information for the Linked UP! Program can be found at

Erica Fowler is the education, health and human services reporter. Contact her at [email protected].