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Checking in with the Sophomore Experience

September 10, 2021

Though they showed remarkable resilience and spirit as they began their college careers during the pandemic, it was clear that the Class of 2024 deserved more of a connection to WPI than it was able to have in its first year. Matt Foster, associate director of residential services, Angela Romano, assistant director of academic advising, and Christine Ziev, associate director of student activities, spent the summer collaborating with faculty, staff, and student organizations to address the issue. Their solution came in the form of the Sophomore Experience, or SophEx.

This voluntary, yearlong program aims to provide sophomores with an engaging, supportive, community-focused series of events through Topic Community meetings based on shared interests and social activities as they continue their journeys at WPI.

“We want to offer them more of a connection to WPI than they might not have been able to have in the past year,” Foster explained in a previous article. “We want to give them a better understanding of our traditions, the things that happen year-to-year that weren’t able to take place because of the pandemic. We want them to be able to feel that connection and be reminded of why they chose WPI in the first place.”

How’s it going so far? Well, with a flurry of activities—everything from tie-dye events and sports nights to a rundown on WPI traditions—it’s probably easier if we just show you. (Spoiler alert: it’s a lot of fun!)

Students gather for lunch and some icebreakers on Higgins Lawn.

Over 200 students attended the SophEx programming kickoff in late August: a welcome picnic and afternoon of icebreakers on Higgins Lawn (quick, tell us your name and pronouns, where you’re from, and one fun fact about yourself!).


 

Students gather around a grill and make s'mores.

You’re killing us, Smalls—250 students gathered behind the Campus Center for a sweet afternoon of s’mores.


 

The Student Alumni Society stops by to share some information on WPI traditions.

After lunch and icebreakers, the Student Alumni Society stopped by to talk about WPI traditions, as Gompei overlooked the festivities.


 

Students gather in line for soft serve ice cream in front of an ice cream truck.

Sophomores weren’t just treated to social and community-building events; they also enjoyed quality puns—just ask those who stopped by the Quad for some soph-serve ice cream.


 

Students participate in a tie-dye event on Higgins Lawn.

Everyone knows about the sweater Gompei sports on the Quad, and 250 students spent a sunny afternoon making fashion statements of their own by tie-dyeing their own T-shirts.


 

President Leshin stops to chat with a few members of the Class of 2024.

President Leshin stopped by to chat, catch up with members of the Class of 2024, and, of course, take a #PrezSelfie or two.


 

A group of new friends pose for a selfie in front of an inflatable Gompei.

After grabbing said selfies, students took some of their own as they spent the afternoon making friends and memories.


 

Members of the Class of 2024 arrange themselves in a giant "24" in an aerial photo over the Quad.

The pandemic forced a postponement of the Class of 2024 photo, but 400 sophomores gathered on the Quad for a quick photoshoot to keep the tradition going.