Aiding Ambition: Freshman Coaches Prepare Students for Success

Sep 16th, 2014

Aiding Ambition: Freshman Coaches Prepare Students for Success

Patrick Suprunowicz’s experience with Akir Khan was more than that of an academic coach his freshman year—Khan became a mentor. Not only did Khan help Suprunowicz discover his interest in politics, but Khan also put him in touch with various entrepreneurs and faculty at HPU to help him start his own business, Shelter Clothing, that provides personalized donations for homeless veterans throughout High Point, Greensboro and the surrounding communities.

That’s the kind of outcome the Student Success Program inspires. Dr. Beth Holder, associate dean of the new program, and a team of success coaches worked to make the transition from home to college as smooth as possible for HPU’s freshman class. Now in its second year, the coaches have provided countless opportunities that instill passion and purpose in first-year students.

“Attending HPU is often a student’s first time away from home,” says Holder. “It can be overwhelming deciding what classes to take, what they should major in, dealing with homesickness and finding out where they belong. They don’t necessarily need intensive instruction; sometimes they just need purposeful encouragement.”

When Nick Stigler began his freshman year, he was determined to land a prestigious internship the following summer. An athletic training major, Stigler was paired up with success coach Britt Carl, who helped Stigler craft a résumé and cover letter before connecting him with Career and Internship Services for the final touches. Stigler landed and completed a summer internship with the New Orleans Saints athletic training staff thanks to those steps.

“Ms. Carl was a huge help for me in getting this internship, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without her,” Stigler says of his success coach. “She made the college transition very easy, and she was such a blessing to have as my success coach.”

The coaches also understand the value of connecting students to their community and the city where they live, which is why they initiated a taskforce to implement impactful campus and community outreach projects. Among other assignments, the team collected non-perishable food items to benefit Guilford County students and families in need.

“The freshman coaches have literally served as life-lines for our students,” says Dr. Dennis Carroll, provost. “Not only have they advised them regarding course selection and assisted them in registering for classes, they have also connected our students to academic services and the broader community. They have served as mentors and advisors, transitioning the students from their high school experiences to a true understanding of how to navigate their academic and professional pursuits.”

Vouching for the program’s success, Suprunowicz, now a sophomore, tells incoming freshmen that utilizing the “Dream Team” of coaches is vital.

“If you need Akir anytime, you can call him and he’ll be there. If you have had a really bad day, sit down in his office for 10 minutes, and you’ll feel like a million dollars afterward. The Student Success Program really exemplifies what HPU is all about— being extraordinary.”

Coaches offer support and engagement through:

  • Academic advising
  • Social activities
  • Community service opportunities
  • Campus involvement recommendations
  • Research opportunities
  • Interdepartmental coordination
  • Personal coaching
  • Network connections
  • Leadership opportunities
  • Campus events