How can prospective students find their place at Redlands? For Admissions Bulldog Ambassador Abbi Fine ’21, it’s as easy as a walk in the park. Or rather—as she tells prospective students and their parents when she conducts tours of the Redlands campus—a walk through Hunsaker Plaza.
The first week of each semester, clubs and organizations host a fair to promote their activities, with music, treats, and even boba. “I always suggest students walk through and sign up for as many interesting things as they can—it’s exactly like that scene in the movie Pitch Perfect,” says Fine. “That’s one of the ways they’ll find their place at Redlands.”
As a Bulldog Ambassador, Fine has introduced hundreds of students to the University and tailors the walk-and-talks to each group’s varied interests. “I have the most fun job on campus,” she says of her three-year tenure as a guide. There’s a mixture of curiosity, anticipation, and worry among her guests as they decide where to go for college. Often-asked questions include:
“How much homework do you have each night?” (“I average about two hours of homework each night, and it’s all usually manageable,” says Fine.)
“Do you like living in the residence halls?” (“I’ve lived on-campus all four years. I love the community that living on campus brings.”)
“How do you get a roommate?” (“You can request a certain roommate or fill out a survey to be paired with someone based on matching preferences. I think the university does a good job pairing people.”)
“What do you do on weekends?” (“You can either grab coffee at Olive Avenue Market or ice cream at À La Minute in Redlands, or venture to the beach or hike in the mountains. Plus, the University is always putting on fun events for the students.”)
“Are the people nice?” (“The community is honestly my favorite part of Redlands. The students, faculty, and staff are wonderful people, and I’ve been able to develop so many bonds. Redlands students are genuinely kind and want what’s best for you.”)
Fine’s answers reflect both her student involvement and residence life. “It’s my job to be open and honest about my full Redlands experience,” she says.
Finding her place early on
Fine moved from Maple Grove, Minnesota, to attend Redlands; she was drawn by the weather and the tour she took when visiting the University as a high school student. She’ll graduate in April with a double major in political science and public policy, and a minor in women, gender and sexuality studies.
She found her place at U of R early on: Elected a student senator each of her four years on campus, Fine now serves as senate chair overseeing 12 senators, their projects, and committee work. “Something that’s really incredible about Redlands is the ability to take a full course load, work my Admissions job, be a leader in organizations, and still get seven hours of sleep at night,” she says.
Looking forward, Fine is applying for legislative affairs positions in Washington, D.C. “I’ve gained lots of project management, leadership, and communication experience at Redlands, and that’s all reflected in my job interviews and cover letters,” says Fine, who is president of the Maroon and Grey Ambassadors and a Delta Kappa Psi sorority member.
She studied in Barcelona, Spain, in fall 2019 and visited Paris and London with fellow Bulldogs also studying in Europe. “I learned a lot about myself in Spain, how to be independent, and trust my language abilities,” she says. “We were lucky to study abroad for a full semester before the pandemic.”
Finding positives during the pandemic
Indeed, pandemic restrictions altered Fine’s academic routine, but it didn’t slow her down. As a Tinker Scholar, she completed a virtual internship with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from her home in Minnesota. Last fall, she and other classmates moved temporarily to upstate New York and then Vermont to stay in family homes and study long-distance while seeing a new part of the country.
“I’ve found some positives during the pandemic,” she says. “I’m thankful for having a safe home to go to and friends that can fly to another state and live there. However, it hasn’t been easy for anyone, and I miss the smaller interactions, like talking to friends after class.” And, of course, she’s disappointed that this year will again see a virtual commencement ceremony due to the State’s restrictions with San Bernardino County’s current case numbers. “The hardest part is not being able to walk at graduation and have my friends and family around me to celebrate.”
Even so, she’s making the most of her final weeks as an undergrad. Fine is back in Redlands in a campus apartment, which allows for single occupancy, safety protocols, and virtual learning. She continues to host campus tours via computer. “I had a virtual tour this morning at 8 a.m.,” she says and is enthusiastic about the remote format: “These are one-on-one tours, and I can really personalize the tour to whatever the student is interested in.”