On August 13, the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Multicultural Education (ODIME) welcomed members of the Class of 2026 to campus during the Connections Pre-Orientation Program. Dubbed Connections 2026, this year’s cohort brought together 110 undergraduate scholars and 17 Program Ambassadors (PA) over a one-week experience in what is the largest EMSEP/Connections cohort in WPI’s history.
Connections is designed to assist incoming first-year students who are underrepresented in STEM/WPI and identify as Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), African American, Latino/a/x American, Asian American, Native American (ALANA), Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, Aromantic, Agender and Pansexual (LGBTQIAP+), and/or first generation college students make a smooth transition from high school to college.
“I cannot recommend this experience any more than I already have! It’s such a good way to learn about the WPI campus, faculty, and connect with future peers. If anyone is given the opportunity, please take it!” –Elias Montas ‘26
The 2022 Connections experience offered 32 scholars the opportunity to take a free online summer course during the E2-term as part of the Connections Academic Immersion. This model allowed Connections 2026 scholars to truly get a snapshot of the WPI experience in anticipation for their first A-Term at the Institute. The goal was to really prepare students for the academic transition into WPI to allow them to begin developing effective organization and time management strategies. The hope is to use the Class of 2026 cohort to formally develop and implement a summer-long residential bridge program. The 32 Connections scholars took the following E2-term courses:
- AR 2333 - 3D Animation
- CH 1010 - Chemical Forces and Bonding
- CS 2022 - Discrete Mathematics
- ES 1310 - Intro to CAD
- HI 1322 - Intro to European History
- HI 1330 - Intro to History of Science and Technology
- MA 1021 - Calculus I
- MA 1022 - Calculus II
- MA 1023 - Calculus III
- MA 1024 - Calculus IV
- WR 1010 - Elements of Writing
“[Connections] really helped me get ready for college, and even though I wasn't sure I'd fit in I certainly did.” – Benjamin Peters ‘26
The week-long Connections Pre-Orientation Program (August 13-19) kicked off with a Campus Resource Fair, Welcome Session, and Parent/Family Informational Session and Q&A. “There will be times when doubt creeps in and you will question whether or not you belong at WPI; do whatever you need to do to interrupt that voice because you are more than capable of succeeding here…your stories, identities, cultures, and experiences matter and if no one has told you before, you are already enough,” was a message Arnold Lane, Jr., Director of Multicultural Education and Community Engagement delivered to students and their families using an additional note centered around perseverance.
The Connections scholars also made their return to the Warren Conference Center for the first time since 2019 where they participated in a series of teambuilding activities, ropes courses, and a BBQ. Throughout the week, scholars were encouraged to meet new people daily and fully immerse themselves in this new dynamic environment.
“As someone who used to be extremely shy growing up on a small island, the team building activities such as the Warren Conference Center, I was able to open up my shell and be expressive with my friends.” –Connections 2026 Scholar
The Office of Government and Community Relations provided the Connections scholars with a private tour of the City of Worcester highlighting key neighbors, restaurants, shopping centers, the cultural district, and other go-to spots and city sites. The ODIME team and campus partners were also intentional about setting up team builders and networking opportunities with WPI faculty, staff, and our international students. A notable highlight of the week included a trip to Polar Park for a WooSox game with the Office of International Student Life and WPI’s newest international students.
The Connections Pre-Orientation Program could not occur without the hard work and dedication of the Program Ambassadors. PAs are valued members of the ODIME team who are trained to provide peer-to-peer leadership and support for students who participate in the Connections experience. They serve as peer educators who engage our newest WPI scholars in various aspects of their first year at WPI as they transition into college. They also serve as positive role models within the community, aid in student support initiatives, encourage personal growth in their peers, and provide lasting experiences to ensure student success.
“Being able to be a Connections PA this year was one of the best ways I could give back to a community that helped me adjust to WPI. It was great to not only be able to connect to students my year, but years above and below me and realize I’m not alone at WPI, but there are a lot of people with similar experiences to me.” –Axe Kiraly ‘26, Program Ambassador
The ODIME team also introduced the Parent/Family Connections virtual webinar series this year to provide the families of our Connections experience a more in-depth overview of WPI’s campus resources. This experience was combined with the in-person Parent/Family Informational and Q&A and facilitated by Mia-Kay Fuller, Assistant Director for ODIME. Families attended the following webinars live and on-demand during the month of August:
- Parent/Family Information and Q&A
- Financial Aid and Paying Your WPI Bill
- Academic Support Resources
- Wellness Resources
- ODIME Overview + Inclusion Resources
“Love what you’re doing and appreciate seeing efforts to empower marginalized groups and encourage them to support each other…Thanks for all you do!!” –Connections 2026 Parent
The 2022 Connections experience was made possible by the generous contributions from Undergraduate Studies, Eric Hahn and Family, the WPI Alumni Association, and Teradyne, Inc. your continued support of ODIME’s programs and services is appreciated.
This experience is also a key highlight of Year 1's strategic planning discussions related to Lead With Purpose: 2021–2026 and Connections continues to be a strategic priority for WPI.
Special thank you to Rachael Heard '17, Director of Academic Programming and Student Transitions for all of your contributions in making the 2022 program possible.
In 2023, WPI and ODIME will celebrate and recognize the 30th Anniversary of the Connections Pre-Orientation Program.
“Connections was amazing and will probably remain among my favorite weeks on campus throughout my four years!” –Connections 2026 Scholar
The ODIME team is grateful to all of our campus partners and close collaborators who make this program possible every year. Special thanks and appreciation to:
- Academic Advising
- Academic Resource Center
- Academic Technology Center
- Biology and Biotechnology Department
- The Business School
- Campus Police
- Career Development Center (CDC)
- Center for Well-being (CWB)
- Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
- Dining Services
- Division of Talent and Inclusion
- Diversity Outreach Initiatives Team in Undergraduate Admissions
- Events Office
- Gordon Library
- The Global School
- Humanities and Arts Department
- IT Services
- Mathematical Sciences Department
- Physics Department
- President’s Office
- Provost's Office
- Residential Services
- School of Arts & Sciences
- School of Engineering
- Student Aid & Financial Literacy
- Student Development and Counseling Center (SDCC)
- Office of Accessibility Services
- Office of Government and Community Relations
- Office of International Student Life
- Office of Strategic Initiatives and University Analytics
- STEM Education Center
- Student Activities Office
- Student Affairs Division
- Undergraduate Admissions
- Undergraduate Studies
In 1993, WPI welcomed members of the incoming class to campus during the EMSEP (Excellence in Math, Science, and Engineering) Pre-Orientation Program, which was designed to help students of color adjust to WPI’s campus and persist through college. As WPI evolved, the EMSEP Pre-Orientation Program became known as Connections. Although the name of the program changed over time, the purpose and core values remained the same.