UW SSO introduces Pen-Demic Pals Program

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For the better part of the past year, UW students have spent their study time sitting behind screens, away from the hustle and bustle of campus. 

“The past year has been extremely challenging and isolating. We know students feel disconnected from their friends and campus and are having a more difficult time finding ways to stay involved,” Lauryn Poulin, Student Development Specialist at the UW Student Success Office (SSO), said. 

To help students reconnect with each other and create meaningful conversation, the SSO has introduced the Pen-Demic Pals Program after the smashing success of last year’s UWinterloo Pen Pal Program. 

“The UWinterloo Pen Pal Program saw an incredible turnout, with 600 participants,” Poulin said. “We designed this program with the sole purpose of helping students facilitate new relationships and connect with their peers.”

Students who register will be matched with other students – their Pen-Demic Pal – in mid-February, and can decide how and when they would like to communicate. 

“Students will be matched with someone outside of their faculty or program. We’ll also keep undergrads and grads separate,” Poulin said, “After that, matching is completely random.”

Students are free to set their own parameters. 

Formally, the program will conclude in mid-March, but students are welcome to stay in touch with their Pen-Demic Pal if they like. 

“It can be intimidating or feel awkward to reach out and try to meet other people, especially online, so we’re hoping this program serves as a stepping stone to initiate or maintain relationships. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we don’t have to be face-to-face to stay connected,” Poulin said, “Technology is an amazing thing, and there are endless tools students can use to connect virtually.”

The Pen-Demic Pals Program has 620 registrants.

The SSO offers a wide range of services to students who are looking for support or to get involved in a leadership opportunity. Some of the programs and services include:

  • Student Leadership Program
  • Peer Success Coaching
  • Foundational Training Program for Peer Leaders
  • Orientation 
  • Immigration consulting
  • International student resources
  • Online learning resources

“We encourage students to follow @uwaterloolife on Instagram to stay informed on upcoming initiatives. We stay on top of all the fun events happening across campus each week,” Poulin said.

For more information about the program or the SSO, please reach out to lauryn.poulin@uwaterloo.ca