SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Starting college is an overwhelming time in any student’s life, and Drury University is providing them with a little help to adjust to college and to living in Springfield.

“If you are from a different background, you can feel very lonely,” said Ana Luiza Mota in a news release from Drury. “I finished my high school near Springfield, and I felt like people didn’t really understand me.”

Mota recently immigrated from Brazil and said she had trouble finding friends when she moved to the area. Drury University invited her to attend its Bridges Program when she decided to attend.

Bridges happens the week before classes start, and is designed to help freshmen build relationships with other students. Team building activities are a part of the program, but students are also taken on a tour of Springfield to help them find grocery stores, restaurants and historical sites. The program wraps up with a brunch attended by students and professors.

“The success of all students at Drury is our number one priority, so to watch them laughing and talking with their professors, is my favorite part of the program,” said Dr. Rosalyn Thomas, who is Associate Dean of Diversity and Inclusion and coordinator of the Drury Bridges Program.

Bridges doesn’t end after the initial meeting. Students meet with upperclassmen once a month who also went through the program. The fall of 2022 Bridges class had 20 applicants, which was a record in the program’s ten-year history.