A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

UK faculty, staff send spirit-lifting postcards to connect with first-year students returning for spring

By Ryan Girves
University of Kentucky

This holiday season, the University of Kentucky is looking to lift the spirits of first-year students returning to campus for the spring semester.

Organized by the Office for Student Success and Institutional Research, Analytics and Decision Support (IRADS), UK staff and faculty volunteers from across campus are participating in a postcard-writing campaign to spread messages of positivity and encouragement after what has been an unprecedented college semester.

UK staff and faculty volunteers are participating in a postcard-writing campaign to spread messages of positivity and encouragement. (UK photo)

“Sending postcards allows us to provide a more personalized outreach to students, beyond the emails and text messages that we usually send,” said Sarah Ballard, executive director of the First-Year Experience and Early Outreach Programs. “This is our way of connecting with our students on an individual level to let them know that we care and that they matter to our university community.”

While this semester has been unlike any other due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Ballard hopes that these cards brighten someone’s spirits during what otherwise might be a more difficult time.

“We want students to know that the University of Kentucky puts students first,” Ballard said. “We have so many team members across the institution who are here to support, encourage and connect with students to help them be successful.” 

In its fourth semester of the program, volunteers have written over 2,800 postcards, double the amount sent last year.

Through the postcard campaign, Ballard, along with her colleagues, believes that they can be a lifeline for students who need one.

“We hope that this helps students realize how much we care about them as students and as members of our UK community,” Ballard said. “We also want our students to have someone who they can connect to (regardless of office) if they ever need anything. We are all here to support our students and want them to feel comfortable reaching out to any UK faculty or staff member if they ever have an issue.”

A testament to the university’s unwavering commitment to its students, the university has worked tirelessly to support students and its staff and faculty through a year of firsts.

First-year students at UK have not had the total traditional college experience, but through new programs and new modalities of learning and engagement, it has been a showcase of what is possible.

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