This story is featured in the Spring 2019 edition of the HPU Magazine. Discover below how Success Coaches help students discover their passions.
Some come unsure of their college major. That’s normal. In fact, more than half of all students nationally enter college undeclared.
Others arrive confident in their major but soon begin to second guess their choice. They relate to the 75 percent of students nationally who change their major at least once during college.
Then, there are those who come in with a plan and stick to it.
For each type, there’s an HPU success coach.
As an incoming freshman uncertain of her major, it was hard for Molly Casper to confidently picture her HPU journey.
Then she met her success coach, Isabel Drinkwater.
Every HPU freshman is paired with a success coach, a professional staff member who offers academic guidance and encouragement throughout a student’s first year at HPU.
“Project Discovery was so effective,” says Casper. “It gave me the opportunity to explore classes in a variety of different fields so I could get a feel for my strengths and the topics I was passionate about.”
Casper came to HPU knowing she loved sports. She thought the only way to apply her passion was through physical therapy. A couple of classes showed Casper that science wasn’t her career interest, but a few business courses uncovered her love for marketing.
Drinkwater opened Casper to the idea of doing both. The outcome? Today, Casper is a junior sport management major with a minor in marketing.
“Isabel not only guided me toward finding my major and setting goals that would help me succeed, but she also served as my support system,” says Casper. “When I feared I was missing out on an opportunity or struggled to find my place on campus, or if I just needed someone to talk to about my day, Isabel was always there.”
Parker Murphy’s outcomes are similar thanks to his success coach. His journey, however, traces a different path.
The Major Changer
Athletic training. That’s what Murphy would major in when he arrived at HPU.
He was certain.
With more than 800 volunteer hours in the field, Murphy met Britt Carl, his success coach, and quickly declared his major in athletic training.
But, as the year unfolded, he began to doubt his decision.
Carl was there to listen.
“She always had my academic success as her top priority,” Murphy says. “She made me feel as if I were the only student she mentored. When I started questioning my choice, Britt told me if I didn’t love it, then I should switch to something that I would want to spend the rest of my life doing.”
During the summer between his freshman and sophomore years, Murphy made the switch to sports management in the Nido R. Qubein School of Communication. Carl was there for him every step of the way.
As a senior, Murphy now has an academic advisor in the School of Communication who guides him, but he still goes to Carl almost every week to check in.
“Britt has been an invaluable part of my success at HPU and my potential to live a life of relevance and significance after graduation,” says Parker. “I will always be grateful to her.”
The Peer Mentor
For students who stick with their initial plan, success coaches still play an important role.
Tommy Hockenjos chose HPU for its physical therapy program.
He’d known physical therapy was his passion, and one look at the Human Biomechanics and Physiology Lab was all it took.
Because his major was decided, Hockenjos turned his focus to involvement on campus. He’d led an active high school career that revolved around football, and with two older brothers, he never sat idle.
Carl was Hockenjos’ Success Coach, too. She helped him find areas for involvement, and when he dreamed of establishing his own club — the Teddy Roosevelt Club of Excellence, an organization focused on outdoor activities and volunteerism — Carl was there to make it happen.
Today, Hockenjos stays connected with Carl and the Center for Student Success. He serves as a peer mentor — an upperclassman who helps new students find their path.
“He has just blossomed,” Carl says of Hockenjos. “When we have a student who we see is trying to find their path, we email Tommy. That’s why we call him the ‘King of Student Success.’”