Approximately three years ago, Lai Monte Hunter, former Director of Diversity and Inclusion, worked to create the Passport Program. The Passport Program is an exploration program for incoming freshmen to come to campus early to get help and information that will benefit them throughout school year.
The transition from high school to college is a huge adjustment and this program was built to help freshmen who need guidance adjusting. The Passport Program has classes that teach freshmen key lessons about college, including time management, student handbook guidelines, academic resources, and other essentials that will put them ahead of other first year students that didn’t join the program.
Freshmen in the program get paired up with upperclassmen student advisors that have experience to help them adapt. It’s symbolically similar to big brother and big sister programs, giving a close type of connection. Throughout the year advisors will check up on their students, known as proteges, during their involvement with the program. Advisors duties are to check up on their proteges, make sure they’re passing their courses, as well as having a great time at college.
“Throughout the year we have bi-weekly seminars,” said India Barrows, the new Director of Diversity and Inclusion. “We talk about things they need to know and things they need to work on.”
Since Passport Program students come back to campus earlier than other students, the program creates activities and bonding adventures with advisors and fellow freshmen who are involved in the program. Now that Barrows is the new director, she takes time out her day to schedule out activities for incoming freshmen who are here early.
Barrows also elaborated on how this program is like a family. Her and the student advisors are here for the students whether it’s school related or personal problems. She has so many stories of students who have come to her with problems that she was able to help them with. It’s a bond that lasts longer than the four years of school. Students create life-long friends through their student advisors and get involved on campus prior to the semester.
“Passport is a blessing to me because I got the chance to meet people from different places. Coming to school early, I got a chance to settle in, take a tour around campus,” said Yamaris Bailey, a Passport Program student. “The program had classes and activities for us to do. Former director, Lai Monte Hunter, also was very active with students, he actually took the time and effort to help everyone out, and especially me on my writing. Wednesdays we would meet up at the library at 6:00pm to do all our homework and get the help we need. It’s really a great program that not many other colleges offer.”
Students who were passionate about this program and used it to their advantage are excelling in their classes. This program has a huge effect on students who have difficult times with assignments and following professors’ instructions. Tutors on Wednesdays will take hours out of their day to assist anyone in their class.
“I advise students to come to study hall for the program on Wednesdays at 6PM,” said Barrows. “We go over the problems, and help them to understand. By the time study hall is over, usually the students will be able to do it on their own without confusion.”