By Brianna Saylor, News Editor
Originally Published October 9, 2023
What is it really like being a commuter student on a college campus? Can you really get ‘the college experience’ without living in the atypical college dorms? Saint Vincent College (SVC) is committed to ensuring that the answer is yes for commuters and residents alike.
Some individuals at (SVC), whether recently or for many years, have been working to improve commuter involvement and inclusion on campus. Several of those individuals include Bridget DiVittis, Assistant Director of Campus Ministry and Coordinator of Commuter Outreach, Alec Barlock, senior Ed Curriculum and Instruction major, Graduate Assistant to Commuter Outreach, and Alison Mileca, junior Political Science and Sports Management double major and Student Orientation Director for SVC commuters. The three discussed their commitment as active members of a team of professors and students whose goal is to ensure commuter involvement and growth at SVC.
“Ever since Bridget started in 2015, she has been working diligently towards what we have now as Commuter Outreach,” Barlock said.
Five years ago, commuters only had one representative in the Student Government Association (SGA), but through combined efforts, they acquired two seats, which has now evolved into four seats–and the momentum did not stop there. Since 2018, when Barlock was a first-year commuter student, he has played an integral part in developing the commuter club, the commuter ambassador program, and, most recently, the commuter orientation committee.
“It took nearly five and a half years for the commuters to have their own part in orientation and their own branch and involvement. This is the first year that commuters were heavily involved with transfer and freshman orientation,” Barlock said.
This year’s opportunity for commuters to take an active role in student orientation is hoped to improve the lives of an influx of commuter students entering their first or last year on campus.
The Commuter Outreach program, combined with expanding commuter initiatives, has flourished largely in part due to emphasizing the student as a community member. There is less stress put on living on campus in order to be a part of the campus culture.
Barlock, now in his sixth year at SVC, has always been inspired by those around him. In completing his graduate school studies this spring, he has a lot of decisions to make, but one thing is for sure: SVC is his home. “And it will always be in my future,” Barlock said.
Commenting on her commuter experience, Mileca emphasized that any college experience is what you make of it. “From day one, I knew I wanted to ‘bridge that gap’ between commuter students and those who live on-campus,” Mileca said.
In getting involved with a wide array of campus activities, such as football and orientation, for example, she has been able to do just that.
“My events are directed towards commuter students...we did a commuter and transfer dinner and then bingo, which was hosted during the day, which is not only more suitable for commuters but also allowed me to bring both groups together–commuters and residents,” Mileca said.
Dr. Anthony Kane, Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs, has also played a critical role in developing and growing commuter initiatives.
“Dr. Kane has helped me develop into the leader I am today. He helped me get into a leadership program through the Fred Rogers Center last year, which was incredible because it helped me learn how to be a leader and what being a leader meant,” Mileca said.
DiVittis, optimistic of the commuter initiatives, has adopted a forward-looking mindset on their future.
“Dr. Kane and the rest of the administration are continuing to watch the numbers and look at whether we need to grow the commuter program overall because as the number continues to rise, there will be more to address and more we need to make sure we take care of,” DiVittis said.
Ultimately, the growing involvement on the part of the SVC community in Commuter Outreach continues to provide instruments necessary for implementing new programs to better the commuter experience for the future.