faculty advice for incoming students

Lessons Beyond the Lecture Hall: Faculty Advice for a Fresh Start to the Semester

Starting your journey at a new college can be overwhelming. Between registering for classes, getting the lay of the land, meeting peers and professors, and potentially being away from home for the first time, it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture and remember what brought you here in the first place.

Whether you’re transferring to a new program, going to college for the first time, or jumping into graduate school feet first, chances are you’re feeling a little disconnected while contemplating the adventure you’re about to begin. What are your goals? What are the passions you’re hoping to explore? Who is the person you’re meant to be?

To help you ease your mind and prepare for the exciting journey that awaits, we’ve asked some of UB’s faculty to think back to when they were just starting out and share with you the advice that they wish they had received along the way.

Dr. Randy Laist, professor of English, chair of the English department

“Times of transition can be stressful, but they are also rich with possibilities for self-discovery, innovation, and cultivating new perspectives. Between worlds, in the nether space between the past and the future, a time of transition is a precious window of opportunity to break out of established habits of living and thinking and to invent new ways of becoming yourself and new selves to become. University of Bridgeport is designed to be a place where you can feel supported as you take advantage of this exciting time. Rediscover your inner passion. Meet new people. Learn something that blows your mind. Pioneer new landscapes of thinking and dreaming. This is your future, and it begins today!”

Jessica Andre, assistant professor of Psychology

“Advocate for yourself! Communication is key, and you should (almost) always ask! Communicate what is going on, and don’t be afraid to ask if you need help in any way. Get help when needed. You were probably told that being in college is about independence, and while it is true no one will wake you up to tell you to go to class, it does not mean you are on your own. There are many resources — that you are already paying for — that are waiting to assist you. Take advantage of these. The most successful students understand using these resources is not a weakness but a sign that you are smart enough to know when you need a helping hand.”

Spiros Katsifis, Chair of Biology

“You are about to engage in an experience generally called ‘higher education,’ but it is actually your best opportunity to build and develop yourself personally and professionally. We are here to help and guide you in that process, and we are ready to connect with you in all aspects of your experience at UB — in the classroom, laboratory, office, dining hall, or outside under one of our beautiful trees — wherever, whenever, and whatever works for you. The most important thing, however, is not the content of your courses but the commitment, depth, and integrity with which you pursue your educational and professional growth. Be open, honest, and true to your dreams, and together, we will embark on a beautiful and fulfilling experience, which is the ultimate goal of ‘higher education.’ Don’t forget to meet and mingle with new students and let them see who you are. Be friendly and open.”

Donna Oropall, assistant professor of Human Services

Stay in the moment. It is truly all that we have. Take advantage of the ancient practices such as yoga and meditation to ensure you are your best self and can show up for others.”


Ajay Shrestha, adjunct faculty, School of Engineering

“We are amid the greatest technological disruption ever in human history. There are opportunities and challenges ahead. Continue learning and investing in your well-being. It will be critical for your success. Future-proof yourself with a combination of hard and soft skills that will be difficult for AI to replace. Find common ground between what you are naturally good at and what your passion and future aspirations are.”


Mya Scarlato, director of Arts and Humanities, chair of Music and Music Education

Find a community. Join a music ensemble, student club, or team that involves an activity that you enjoy. Don’t be afraid to ask for help — that’s why we are here! And lastly, be disciplined about distractions — turn your phone off and avoid social media while you do your classwork — you’ll work more quickly and efficiently and have more free time afterward!”


Laura Greco, associate director of academics and associate professor, Fones School of Dental Hygiene on behalf of all the Fones faculty

“Come prepared for class, find a study group, reach out to your UB resources on campus, connect with others on campus, be prepared to work, embrace your new profession, and be proud.”


Fredrick Dombrowski, assistant department chair, Clinical Mental Health Counseling

“Create a self-care plan you can implement daily to help manage the stress of post-graduate learning. You are worth the investment; be sure to take care of yourself!”

University of Bridgeport’s faculty are excited to meet you where you are — no matter where that may be in your educational journey. They want to support you on your unique path toward a career that brings you purpose. We don’t believe in the “ivory tower” view of higher education — our faculty are simply humans looking to connect with you and be a part of your campus community. At UB, #UBelong.

Learn all the ways #UBelong at UB by visiting bridgeport.edu/ubelong!