Ryan Bolotte is a senior majoring in Biological Sciences from New Orleans, LA. During his time as a Tiger, Ryan has been involved in LSU Ambassadors, S.T.R.I.P.E.S., and Supplemental Instruction (SI). This summer Ryan is serving as the Parent Orientation Leader for the College of Science. In his senior year, Ryan will be working on getting accepted into medical school.
Coming to STRIPES (Student Tigers Rallying, Interacting, and Promoting Education and Service). as a participant, I wanted to be an LSU Tiger. After STRIPES, I knew that I was an LSU Tiger. Parents always ask me what their students should be doing before they start the fall semester or how their students can prepare for the big high school-to-college transition. The simplest answer that I can tell those parents is to send their student to STRIPES LSU’s STRIPES program is a four-day, three-night retreat that takes place in the weeks right before the fall semester, and it is open to all first-year students. There are several pillars that the STRIPES program stands upon, such as academic success, history and traditions, relationship building, and college readiness. STRIPES truly is the full package for every first-year student beginning his or her journey into the college world.
Adjusting to both college academics and life at a university can seem like an overwhelming task to students and parents alike, but STRIPES provides students with a smooth transformation from high school to college as well as offers many ways to achieve academic excellence in that important first semester. During the four days of STRIPES, a professor visits the participants and gives a mock lecture, the students learn what their learning style is and how to use it to study, and representatives from each Senior College come to talk to students so that they can learn more about their respective majors. Participants also go on a campus tour, staff members take the students to find their classes, and various campus departments and resources are presented at STRIPES.
I was very nervous about how I would meet friends once I got to LSU since I was pretty shy coming out of high school, and I did not know many people going to LSU. STRIPES not only helped me make friendships that are still a part of my life today, it ignited a level of passion for LSU that I did not know was even possible. Throughout the week of STRIPES, participants spend a majority of their time in small groups of ten to fifteen other first-year students along with two small group leaders. STRIPES is divided into two streaks, Purple Streak and Gold Streak, and various activities occur within and between the streaks to promote relationship building with all of the students that attend STRIPES. The staff members put on a skit that teaches the participants all about LSU’s history and traditions, and there are other events like STRIPES Games and Roll Call that the participants partake in to learn more about LSU. The bonds that are made at STRIPES are so special because all of the participants are going through this experience together as they are immersed in the customs and culture of LSU.
There are some events that take place at STRIPES that are difficult to capture in words. I watched my life change as I learned about the diversity that runs through this campus, and I realized that I had to accept myself for who I am. I have never felt so included and valued as I did when we sang the LSU Alma Mater at night on the steps of the Law Building with all of the participants and staff members. Spending the last evening of STRIPES alone in Tiger Stadium with only the participants and staff is so incredible; the energy and passion that fills the summer air is nearly tangible. Sitting in the Greek Amphitheatre filled with flickering candles that represent all of the founding qualities and characteristics of the STRIPES program is a breathtaking sight that I still appreciate.
Having gone through STRIPES as a participant and then serving on the student staff for a third time this summer, I have seen the unending benefits of this program. STRIPES gives the participants the confidence and passion to get involved and make a difference during their time here at LSU. One lesson that I pass on to all of my small group members is that they can be whoever they want to be when they arrive on LSU’s campus in the fall; what they did or did not do in high school does not have to define their experience at LSU. I believe that STRIPES is such a powerful and meaningful program because although it is only four days, it offers the opportunity to change every students’ next four years at LSU.
If you or your student are interested in STRIPES, I highly encourage you to visit the website at stripes.lsu.edu!