Great Start to J-Start

J-Start students begin the Trinity journey. Melanie Stein, dean of academic affairs and professor of mathematics, looks on as Laiba Bahrawar ’21 signs the matriculation book. Photo: Helder Mira

Gathered in the Chapel, new Trinity students learned about time-honored college traditions, signed the matriculation book, and heard words of welcome. But unlike previous Matriculation ceremonies, this one was held on a cold morning in early January and involved just six new students.

As the first participants in the new January entry program, the “J-Start” students—two international students and four from the United States—spent the next two weeks embarking on a busy schedule of orientation activities, academic preparation, and outings in advance of the start of the spring semester—their first as Bantams.

Students admitted as part of the J-Start program meet the same enrollment standards as those admitted in the fall semester. They also study the same curriculum and meet the same graduation requirements. J-Start is not designed as an accelerated program, but students may take extra credits to graduate in three and a half years.

Megan Brown, center, director of the Liberal Arts Action Lab, works with Mandisa Harewood ’21 and Izzy Bruno ’21. Photo: Helder Mira

During the program’s first day, Dean of Student Success and Career Development Jennifer Baszile kicked off a series of workshops called “Designing Your Trinity,” which introduced students to what it feels like to transition to college and described how to get the most out of their experiences. The half-credit course called “Doing College,” taught by Director of Educational Technology Jason Jones and Director of Research Services Erin Valentino, exposed students to campus resources, both physical and digital. “The benefit is that these students have a lot of welcoming experiences,” Valentino said. “They learn what kind of place Trinity is, what kind of place they want it to be, and how they can contribute to that.” Students also were introduced to Trinity’s e-portfolio program, with which they document and reflect on their experiences and academic work at Trinity.

The “Doing College” course led directly into their first-year seminar, “Memoirs and Memories,” taught by Sara Kippur, Charles A. Dana Research Associate Professor of Language and Culture Studies. “The class looks at different modes of self-representation, including memoirs, documentary, films, photography, and online media,” Kippur said. “It aligns naturally with the portfolio concept.”

The students grew more comfortable and confident through the course of the two-week program. John Nichols-Daley ’21 said, “After meeting so many different people, I already feel like I have a good grasp of the campus.”

For more on J-Start, please visit

View a photo gallery of J-Start activities on Flickr and read a profile of one of the J-Start students.