First-year students are named ‘Cultural Heroes’


TCU faculty and staff are making an effort to bring student heroes to light.

Cultural Heroes is a new initiative that recognizes first-year students for their dedication, academic success and positive influence on TCU’s campus.

Cultural Heroes Director Trung Nguyen said when he looked at the culture of first-year students, he noticed an emphasis on the negative aspects.

“You hear so much about what first-year students are struggling with in college,” Nguyen said. “What we want to do is focus on more of the positive aspects of first-year students and change their culture.”

Each month brings a new theme. Faculty and staff can nominate first-year students based off of the specific attributes highlighted each month.

Nguyen said September’s theme recognized students who have positive interpersonal relationships and are able to make friends and maintain relationships.

October’s theme was intellectual and academic competence, and November’s theme is health and wellness.

Nguyen said the students who are nominated are contacted and asked if they can be recognized on the TCU Class of 2018 Facebook page.

Jennifer Sepulveda, Foster hall director, nominated first-year student Lillian Young in September. Sepulveda said she believes that Horned Frogs should not just be recognized in an individual community, but within the entire TCU community.

“With social media, students from all interests and organizations can be inspired by the cultural heroes in their class and can build a relationship and connection with more students at TCU,” said Sepulveda. “That’s the Horned Frog way, so that’s what we want to encourage in our culture.”

Nguyen said Facebook allows for students to interact with the posts and promote the initiative to reinforce the positive behaviors of these first-year students. Anyone can access the Facebook page and students can share, like and comment on the posts.

There have been six students recognized as cultural heroes since the program began in September.

Young, the first cultural hero recognized, is a member of the Hall Crew in Foster and is an art education major. She said she has never really met a stranger and loves meeting and working with new people.

Sepulveda said Young goes above and beyond to make sure people get involved in the dorms.

“She is always willing to be that happy face when you walk around, that ‘Hello’ that you need to brighten up your day, and she is a wonderful person to have in our hall,” Sepulveda said.

Cultural Hero Mason Guyette said he had never been recognized for his desire to meet new people before.

“After receiving this award, I decided to make it my mission to try to meet someone new every day and continue to make a difference on campus,” said Guyette, pre-business major.

Dylan Barth received his nomination for Cultural Heroes in October for “displaying strong academic and intellectual skills.” Barth is a triple major in psychology, physics and philosophy.

“I really wanted to come here and be a part of it all,” Barth said. “Be a part of the academics by studying hard and being active in my classes, but also by doing stuff outside of class and making friends with people and helping out on campus.”

Barth said he was shocked by his award and was honored to be recognized as a hero.

Ellen Broom, Barth’s nominator and professor for general psychology, said she is passionate about positive psychology and celebrating those that are doing well and are positive role models to others. 

“I think some of these students aren’t well recognized on campus because they are doing what they are supposed to be doing by studying and participating in events,” Broom said. “It’s important to highlight the academics, the communication levels and the positivity of these students on campus.”

Nguyen said he hopes he can continue this process and highlight first-year students throughout the year. He said he wants Cultural Heroes to become something that students are honored to be nominated for and are striving to achieve.