To some freshmen the word figs means nothing more than a fruit, but for some who are studying business, criminal justice, or career exploration, it could mean the difference between simply going to class or getting the most out of the Tyler Junior College experience.

FIGs stands for Freshmen Interest Groups. A component of the First Year Experience program, FIGs is designed to connect first-time-college students with a group of people possessing similar interests, said information released by the college.

It is also part of TJC’s “Achieving The Dream” initiative designed to help students succeed. FIGS participants enroll in linked courses, study together, and share declared majors while living in a designated residential hall.

Ashleigh Lewis, coordinator of FIGs, said many other institutions have similar programs, but TJC is the first two-year school in the area to incorporate a FIGs program that utilizes living and learning communities.

Tyler Gilmore, a student assistant in the School of Academic Foundation, works with all of the students in FIGs.

“Working with FIGs is definitely a new experience  and it is great when it comes to the student finding their way through the first year of college,” Gilmore said. Gilmore said FIGs is designed to allow the student to make a better transition from high school to college, live on-campus, and be part of their field of study and create their own social network group.

Participants in FIGs stay in Holley and Vaughn dormitories before the fall semester begins and are then assigned roommates who share the same academic interests.

“It’s a good way to get freshmen involved and adjusted to the college life,” said Kathy Wilson, a freshman living in Ornelas Hall.

Andre Suell, 20, and a freshman enrolled in FIGssaid, “The study groups that are provided to us really are helpful and if a student is trying to live on campus they might want to check into being a part of FIGs, due to limited space in the resident halls.”

The goal of FIGs for the future is having students work with the MDA, the Azalea Run, serve as guest speakers for students about various jobs and skills, and ultimately help the student become self-aware of the world around them and how they can make a difference, Lewis said.

Faculty members overseeing the program include Belinda Landers, Cindy Gaddis, Melanie Ward, Deborah Welch and Jason Waller.

Those who are interested in the program can call 903-510-3751 or email the School of Academic Foundationat fye@tjc.edu to request a FIGs application TJC hopes to expand the FIGs program so that more first-year students will be able to participate.

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