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Getting a 'Jump Start' to their collegiate experience
Story by Angela Ross, UNI University Relations student newswriter
Ninety-nine students at the University of Northern Iowa spent a week getting acclimated and learning the ropes of college life at this year's Jump Start orientation.
In its 13th year at UNI, Jump Start is an orientation program that helps new students from ethnically, culturally and socioeconomically diverse backgrounds make a smooth transition to college.
During the week, students learned about academic and financial aid policies and procedures, services available to the students and social interaction in an environment to develop peer connections and social support networks.
A wide range of activities were planned for the students, including community building activities, cultural identity discussions and teambuilding exercises. Students also visited with faculty from colleges in their major field of study, attended a multicultural student organization fair and had a luncheon with UNI faculty, including UNI President Allen and Provost Gloria Gibson.
Along with UNI faculty, students received guidance from 12 upper-class students, known as Pathfinders, throughout the week.
Marla Baylor, a UNI senior management major, and Skylar Mayberry-Mayes, a junior finance and real estate double major, said mentorship is a key part of their job as UNI Pathfinders.
"My role as a Pathfinder consists of being a mentor throughout the remainder of my college experience, helping with the transitional issues students face when going off to college," said Mayberry-Mayes.
The same applies to Baylor. As a Pathfinder, Baylor said it's her duty to "guide them through the actual week of Jump Start to make them feel more at ease with using resources provided on campus while also providing tips for a successful college career."
Many Pathfinders went through the Jump Start program as new students and then chose to give back to the program and help others transition to UNI.
Both Baylor and Mayberry-Mayes said they participated in Jump Start, and because of their experience, they wanted to give back their time and help other students.
In their eyes, the benefits of the Jump Start program are endless.
"Students participating in Jump Start should take away many of the core competencies to a successful college experience, but most of all, students develop a strong foundation of relationships among each other and faculty and staff associated with the program," said Mayberry-Mayes.
"Being able to see students from the same background, race, ethnicity or city makes it that much easier of a transition," said Baylor. "Jump Start shows the students that faculty at UNI care about their success on campus, whether it's in financial aid or student support services. They've built a community that wants to see the students succeed, and it starts with Jump Start."