App finds new way to make lifelong connections

Paul Mayne//Western News

Second-year King’s University College student Sam Chams hopes incoming students at Western, and its affiliate colleges, will find a better way to network and create long-lasting friendships through his new Campus Connect app.

As a first-year King’s University College student, Sam Chams felt there was something missing.

“I started my first week and, as a London kid, I was living off campus,” he recalled. “I met a few friends, but I noticed it was hard to engage people who lived in residence. They connected with people on their floors; they were seeing them every day. So, I thought, there has to be a better way.”

The now second-year student noticed people his age were not using Facebook to connect with others. He thought there had to be an app that specifically connected postsecondary students to one another.

There wasn’t – so he created his own.

Campus Connect joins an already jammed packed app world but, according to Chams, his creation caters to specific needs – from finding some to study with, play with, or date, alongside valuable information on ways to get around town, things to do and even basic services like where students can get their taxes done.

“We’ve tried to build something that would actually put all the pieces of university together. My generation, Millennials, want it to be easy and clear cut,” he said.

Although targeting first-year students, the free app will be open to anyone at Western or Fanshawe College. Only individuals with academic institution emails will be allowed to sign up.

Although soft launching Aug. 24, Chams will officially unveil the app this September. If all goes well locally, he plans to roll out to other postsecondary institutions later on.

It’s been less than a year since Chams took the leap into the world of apps, spending hours at the King’s library between classes putting together his ideas. He’s even had the opportunity to “cash in early.” Other universities wanted to pay him to launch on their campus first, including one in the United States willing to pay “a nice amount” to take control of the app.

But he wanted to keep to see it launch at Western.

“The friendships you make here tend to be lifelong friendships. So, imagine if we could meet more of those lifelong friends. Imagine if that could be done through this app,” said Chams, who has a similar app idea for alumni. “There has been a lot of excitement and nerves. In life, the hardest things, and the most stressful things, usually tend to be the greatest things you do. Having my own money and time into it was stressful, but having friends invest, I knew we had to be successful.”

So, is Chams going to be a user of the Campus Connect app?

“Oh yes, I’m so excited. I’m smart in some areas, but I understand there are individuals smarter than me in how it functions and stuff. So I’m very open to hearing how people respond to it and, ultimately, making it a better experience for the user.”