This report has been contributed by Madilyn Harrell, a student from Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism.
Real Talk is a fairly new thing to become apart of Mercer's undergraduate campus.
It started in the fall 2017 and has featured many of Mercer's faculty and staff. Every event hosts a speaker who talks to students about the struggles and real life issues they have faced in the past.
“It’s meant to normalize the challenges that students face on campus,” said Assistant Director of Student Success, Emily Halstead, "we know every student encounters challenges in college.”
Real Talk started as a conversation between the Office of Student Success and the Office for Research that Reaches Out. The two offices came together after listening to the voices of students in a focus group who were polled about what they would like to see on campus.
“It can be really tough when you think you’re the only one going through what you’re going through,” said Halstead. “We want them to know that they can find support through each other and through faculty and staff.”
Located in the Mercer Innovation Center, each event is different and holds a certain amount of comfortability. The location of the event was specifically chosen to be somewhere where students could relax and get comfortable.
“We don’t want students to think this is a lecture, because it’s not,” said Associate Director of Research that Reaches Out, Hannah Vann, “We intentionally have it in a comfortable environment.”
Real Talk is meant to break down barriers between faculty and students. The faculty speakers for each event are chosen by Mercer students through a survey, so that the students hear from people they are interested in.
At the end of the semester, there will be a student edition of Real Talk, where students will be the speakers. The students picked for student edition apply and then are brought in for interviews with a panel of both staff and students.
Students who are chosen for the Real Talk student edition get individual coaching, as well as go through a workshop.
In the spring, there will be speakers in Jan., Feb., March, and April.
Real Talk is something that the two groups hope to continue on campus. The first year was a success, and this year has also been good in attendance numbers.
“This year is shaping up to be a really successful second year,” said Vann.