Newcomer to Mentor: The Levine Scholars Program’s Transition Team - David Buckner ’24

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Although all scholars are different, a couple of things stand true. Levine seminars, Summer 1 in the backcountry of Wyoming, internships, studying abroad, Civic Engagement Projects, and the Transition Team are a part of every scholar's experience. Of these, I have had the privilege to aid in the experience scholars gain from their interactions with the Transition Team. The Transition Team is a group of current scholars who help prepare incoming first years for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and for their transition from high school to life at UNC Charlotte and in the scholars program. From newsletters, mentorship, weekend excursions, to meetings the transition team makes the vital transition as smooth as possible. As we were once on the ones experiencing this transition we truly understand the implications of this. Seen through the eyes of incoming scholars, the transition is quick and oftentimes intimidating: 

October: Finish Application to The Levine’s Scholars Programs.

November: New Email from Levine’s Scholars Program, “You’re a semifinalist!”

January: New Email from Levine’s Scholars Program, “You’re a Finalist!” 

February: New Email from Levine’s Scholars Program, “Finalist Weekend!” 

April: New Email from Levine’s Scholars Program, “Congratulations! You’re now a Levine Scholar.”

May: New Email from the Transition Team, “Welcome to the Levine’s Scholars Program!”

This thread is a commonality for each Levine Scholar and the start to the relationship of incoming scholars and current scholars. This is a paramount moment that makes newcomers feel truly like Levine Scholars.

In 2020, I received the same thread. The excitement, joy, and nervousness of the transition was beginning to transpire. Meeting with my mentor Marika Samuelsson ‘21, who is now an alum of the program, provided me with a friend and scholar to ease me into becoming a Niner and Scholar. Even though we only met digitally through Zoom, she was a great resource and source of support as I prepared to become a Levine Scholar and go to NOLS. Little did I know that I would soon be doing the same for other newcomers. 

Starting in 2021, I began my journey in the transition team. I learned of the process of ensuring that the relationships and knowledge to newcomers was accomplished. I even met my first mentor group as a transition team member. I developed a wonderful relationship and became friends with my mentees. Through this, I learned that although I am the one with the knowledge of being a scholar I have a lot to learn from those coming in. Now, my third year as a Scholar I am the scholar lead for this team. It is so rewarding now building meaningful relationships with mentors and mentees, through things like making NOLS care packages, hiking in the Charlotte area to prepare incoming scholars for their time trekking through the Wyoming wilderness, and providing guidance about starting college classes. I am now the one bringing the mission of the team to life. Through the relationships fostered, knowledge gained, and memories made, the Transition Team has become a staple of my college experience. 

As I continue to progress through my college career and as a Levine Scholar, I become more and more aware of the benefit we have to have such a wonderful team to support us in one of our most vulnerable moments. To know that as a new scholar, I was shown the proper way to make the most of my gift and my time made the worlds of difference in my experience. Moreover, as the one now being able to provide this same sentiment to newcomers it is fulfilling and a way of giving back to the program that offered so much to me. Without the support I was given, I would not be where I am today. Therefore, I give support back to bring the process full circle. Newcomer to mentor has been my experience, but newcomer to Scholar will be for all Levine Scholars thanks to the Transition Team.