Five days before the start of the second semester, 36 members of the Class of 2015 returned early to campus to participate in the first-ever Sophomore January Program. The new initiative, offered around the time when students must declare their major, is designed to help them “focus on ways that they might successfully navigate a year filled with challenges, decisions and important transitions,” said Dean of Student Affairs Rochelle Calhoun. Among the new program’s goals: to enhance class unity and spirit, provide the opportunity to learn and apply presentation skills, and develop a deeper understanding of personal and civic responsibility.
Coordinated by Student Affairs, Leadership Activities, and the Career Development Center, the program offered workshops, including the popular “Presenting A Brand Called Me,” led by Paul Calhoun, interim dean of special programs, who previously was a professor of management and business.. Students also tackled such topics as “Power, Privilege and Exclusion” in leadership workshops, enjoyed evening socializing, and heard from Essence editor Wendy L. Wilson ’96 and Trustee John Brestoff ’08, who is currently pursuing Ph.D. and M.D. degrees.
“My favorite activity was in the dance studio,” says Modupe Lekena ’16, who worked as a student assistant in the program. “Through movement, rhythm, and dance the sophomores learned how to walk and stand with more than just confidence but with an attitude that demanded respect of all who interacted with them.”
Joshua Nelson, director of leadership activities, received positive feedback through anonymous surveys afterward—for example, “not only entertaining, but informative and surprisingly very helpful. It reminded me of some of the important things in life and expanded my horizons on the ideas of leadership.” And: “Activities were fun and engaging. I learned a lot about what I think it means to be a leader.”
Parents also chimed in. “I just wanted to thank you for the prep work expended in putting together the wonderful Sophomore Career Program you recently had on campus during the winter intercession,” wrote Dr. Ellen Steele. “Whitney really enjoyed the presentations and work sessions, as well as the camaraderie in the evenings.”
Plans are already under way for next year’s program. For more information, please click here.