One incoming freshman at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln saw the opportunity to help her peers feel connected through social media, despite the coronavirus pandemic posing challenges for meeting new people in-person.
Nyawa Allieu, a freshman construction management major, started the @unl2024 Instagram account in April, which helps fellow freshmen connect with each other and share tips and advice to help them navigate their first year of college. She said she started the Instagram account after chatting with other students on the University of Nebraska Class of 2024 Facebook page because she felt an Instagram page was more accessible for her class.
Allieu said the Instagram page represents her thoughts on what the class of 2024 might want or need as they start college. There are feature posts, where students can introduce themselves, announcements about upcoming events and tips for freshmen to succeed.
“It’s really anything that could be beneficial for the class coming in,” Allieu said.
Jayden Simmons, a freshman on the pre-health track and a suitemate of Allieu, said she was looking for resources to make more friends who were incoming freshmen as well, like Facebook or Instagram pages, and she found the class of 2024 Instagram.
Simmons said she likes that incoming freshmen could send Allieu a photo and description of themselves, and she would post it on the account.
“We can meet new people and reach out to other people, so when we came to school, we had more friends,” Simmons said.
Allieu said she came up with the idea of feature posts for freshmen because many messaged her saying they wanted to introduce themselves to other incoming freshmen, and she figured she could give them an easier way to reach more people.
Freshman would have to include their name, major, where they are from and a picture of themselves, but they could include more information about themselves if they wanted.
Simmons said the Instagram account has been beneficial during the COVID-19 pandemic since getting to meet people in-person has been more difficult. Allieu created group chats so people could talk and get to know each other before arriving on campus, according to Simmons.
Allieu said there are group chats for honor students, students living on campus or even students with the same major.
After her introduction post was posted on the Instagram account, Simmons said a lot of people followed her, so she got to meet new people who had similar interests.
Simmons said she likes that, now that school has started, the Instagram account has started posting more tips and advice for UNL freshmen and information about campus events.
Allieu said she decided to have announcements on the Instagram page because some of her friends coming to UNL were unaware of what was happening on campus, so she thought she would let them all know what was going on.
Simmons said she recommends any UNL freshmen to follow the account because it is a good resource for advice, like example scenarios to make friends and reminders for moving into the residence halls or suites on campus.
Jessica Campagnuolo, a freshman chemical engineering major and a suitemate of Allieu, said she found the account after seeing people she already knew post about it on their Instagram stories.
“I really like how it’s a good hub for all of the university information cause she posts a lot about what’s happening on campus,” Campagnuolo said. “On the Insta stories, she posts updates from the school and about classes.”
Because this year may be overwhelming with some classes being completely virtual or a hybrid, Campagnuolo said she would like to see more tips about how students can stay organized during the school year.
Campagnuolo said since she came to UNL from Kansas, the Instagram account has been a great way for her and others to interact with other students.
“I didn’t know that many people coming in, so I think that it can kinda help you look for the people that you think you can become friends with and reach out cause everyone wants to make friends,” Campagnuolo said.
The Instagram account has been a useful tool for students and a way for students to still connect with each other even with the COVID-19 pandemic happening around the world, according to Campagnuolo.
“I think it’s a really good platform, and I’m really glad she’s taken it up cause it’s definitely helped a lot of students,” Campagnuolo said.
Allieu said one of the main points she wants to get across to the class of 2024 is to not be afraid to put themselves out there and try to get to know people.
“I think one of the main things I’ve learned from the page is that everyone’s nervous and everyone wants to make friends, so I would say to just reach out,” Allieu said. “You don’t really have to worry about judgement because we’re all in the same boat and I think everyone is looking to just make new friends and meet new people.”