Since Pathways began in the Fall of 2019, we have incorporated alumni participation with the first-year students. Last year one of the alumni panelists took the time to continue meeting with a new student to encourage and mentor him. That prompted us to look for additional ways for our alumni to begin interacting with students during their first semester on campus.
Due to the broad audience of Pathways, it is not possible to include alumni who represent every discipline in our large lecture class. This year we piloted a plan to break the visiting alumni panels out by academic discipline, and nearly 60 alumni participated on Wednesday, Oct. 25, to meet with first-year students and answer their questions. About 10 of those alumni participated in the panels over Zoom. Alumni represented careers in exercise and sport science, health science, management, music, nursing, teacher education, and ministry.
Mid-semester is tough for many students. Helping them see where they could be in the next 5–7 years at a time during the semester when they may be tempted to give up, can help them regain their focus. These kinds of interactions and mentorship opportunities are helpful for all students, but particularly for students who may not have a clear career path connected to their majors. For example, the Division of Music launched Crescendo to Career this year for the purpose of helping young musicians think about their career goals and work toward those intentionally. We are eager to partner with them, and all our academic divisions, to help the new students find purpose in their callings.