Otterbein’s freshman early arrival programs were combined for the first time during the fall of 2022. This merge saw the RISE program, run by Student Success and Career Development and comprised of Opportunity Scholarship recipients, take the Nurturing Educational Success and Transitions program run by the Office of Social Justice and Activism under its wing. The merger was motivated by changes in OSJA staffing at that time.
As logistics planning for next fall's early arrival programs has progressed, students previously involved with NEST have voiced their opinions on its diversity objectives and the results of the programs being combined.
“NEST is a program for students of color to get acclimated to campus,” said OSJA Administrative Assistant Jennatta Mensah. “I feel like when the program stood alone, it was fun. We were able to be ourselves in our own environment and give [students] opportunities that a person who’s not of color can’t. I felt like this time, it was nonexistent.”
Based on last year’s formatting of the programs together, students are unsure what the future of NEST holds. Much of what is making students feel this way is the rescheduling of NEST programming taking place in the evenings.
“We had much more intimacy with them than we got this year,” NEST mentor Lukas Patel said. “For being only a NEST mentor in 2021 versus being a NEST and RISE mentor, we were all so physically exhausted by the time our NEST programming would start, and that took away from being able to do these experiences with our mentees.”
NEST Program Coordinator Phanawn Bailey said the combined programs felt more RISE-dominated, and that students felt like NEST wasn’t a priority. SSCD Executive Director Kate Lehman explained the impact and purpose of merging the programs.
"James Prysock’s departure left a gap with OSJA,” Lehman said. “So, there was no one from a staff perspective to lead it. We were asked, since we already had a program that was similar, to run it together. It really is just out of practicality that NEST would not have potentially happened, had we not done that."
Having facilitated the NEST-RISE merger, SSCD Assistant Director Lisa Byers said she saw it as a one-time occurrence and clarified that NEST will be handed over to OSJA Director Frank Dobson in the future.
“A lot of it resides with what Frank wants to do,” Byers said. “We oversee the RISE portion, but NEST was and is an OSJA program.”