No more loneliness with ProjectConnect

Transitioning into university is not always easy. Many students feel lonely in a new place, which affects academic success and other aspects of life. 

ProjectConnect can helps overcome these issues and develop strong connections between students. Participants make new friends and learn to cope with difficulties in a new educational institution more easily. 

Grad students Jodi Egeland, Megan Pahl and Lori Marti created the idea for the project after they wrote a grant proposal that secured $39,000. 

“The state of Minnesota was giving away grant money for mental health initiatives and (we) all wrote a grant to the state and were awarded $39,000. With that money we decided to start ProjectConnect,” said Pahl.

In the summer of 2022, the project launched its first groups. 

“In the spring MSU did a survey and they have found 40.9% of students on campus were lonely and had no connections,” said program facilitator Jaiden Moore.

Many of them felt lonely and had difficulty finding friends. To improve the mental state of students, ProjectConnect has compiled a five-week program. Participants meet weekly and get to know each other better through special activities.

For many students, the program has become a safe haven from a difficult week and hard events. The groups began to express a desire to see and chat with their new friends as soon as possible to discuss past events and feel better. After a certain time, the group members began to communicate outside of ProjectConnect meetings, which greatly pleased the Project Facilitator Megan Pahl.

“The main goal of ProjectConnect is to bring students together and so we have found that students exchange phone numbers, they now feel like they have a sense of friendship and someone to hang out with,” said Pahl. “ They are doing things outside of the group with is the main purpose of the program. Now students that had no one started feeling like they have friendships again.”

“We have (students) sign the confidentiality form so that they feel comfortable talking about certain things. Because the whole group geared more toward consecutiveness but also vulnerability so people can talk about things that they normally won’t share with other people,” said Pahl.

Participation in the program is confidential. The next groups of the program will be launched closer to the middle of January. To participate in the activities of the project, students can find ProjectConnect on the university’s website and submit an application. You can also write an email to

Header photo: Megan Pahl, left and Jaiden Moore started ProjectConnect to have students connect with others to prevent loneliness and boost mental health. (Asutosh Silwal/The Reporter)

Write to Amalia Sharaf at

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