Stoutward Bound gives first-year multicultural students an early start to the semester
They arrived two weeks early to transition to college, thrive in community
MENOMOINE, Wis. (September 10, 2021) – It took three days for new first-year student Myles Chung to travel from his home near Dallas, Texas, to his new home at University of Wisconsin-Stout.
He worried about starting at the university as he drove toward Wisconsin.
That anxiety disappeared as he took part in Stoutward Bound, an academic learning community for first-year multicultural students. Stoutward Bound allows students to move to campus two weeks before the start of the fall semester and participate in workshops on transitioning to college. About 47 students are participating in the program.
“I get really homesick,” said Chung, who is majoring in applied biochemistry and molecular biology. “Stoutward Bound gave me an opportunity to get to know other students two weeks before. Now that I am here, I know I am not going to be alone. I’m building a support network here.”
That network includes other students he has met, the staff at Multicultural Student Services and mentors from the Stoutward Bound program, Chung said.
Stoutward Bound started Aug. 22. Fall classes start Wednesday, Sept. 8.
Cheenou Lor, a first-year student from New Richmond studying game design and development, said he enjoyed meeting new people and learning more about the college experience in the program.
His two sisters, Hleeda and Chiashia, both UW-Stout graduates in graphic design and interactive media, participated in the program before him.
“My two sisters told me to take part in the program,” Lor said. “One being that you get to move in two weeks early and they said it would be helpful. It has been helpful getting used to the layout of everything on campus.”
This is the 14th year of Stoutward Bound, said Vickie Sanchez, UW-Stout Multicultural Student Services coordinator.
“Stoutward Bound is really about getting a lead into the college experience by helping students with the transition from high school to college,” Sanchez said.
During the two weeks students attend workshops to build their academic preparation by learning study skills, time management, note-taking and effective reading strategies, Sanchez noted. The goal is to create resiliency and help ensure students graduate.
This year most of the participants are returning to in-person classes after finishing high school virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Stoutward Bound is about creating a sense of community. We encourage our scholars who come from diverse backgrounds to develop a learning and living community that promotes student success and campus involvement. The college experience is a personal journey but also a journey that can be supported by community,” Sanchez said.
The students take a speech class together that continues into fall semester, and in the spring they will either take a psychology class or introduction to peace studies class together.
Aliayah Parker, a graphic design and interactive media major from Ladysmith, and her sister, Sade, who is studying game design and development, both are taking part in Stoutward Bound.
“It has helped me grow as a person and get prepared for school,” Parker said. “I want to be successful. I want to keep my grades up and get my career path going. Stoutward Bound helps with that. It has been a whole new learning experience. You get a chance to know yourself and accept who you are as a person.”
Chris Sander, an art education major from Sheboygan, said being a part of Stoutward Bound was a fun experience. “Not only does Stoutward Bound prepare you for the college experience, but it also prepares you for the social aspect of being in a dorm with a roommate and having friends and connecting with others,” Sander said. “It has been a fulfilling experience that has eased my mind a lot about coming to a new place and a new environment.”
Mentors make a difference
During the academic year the scholars will be advised from the Stoutward Bound coordinator/adviser along with a peer mentor. The goal is to improve student retention by working collaboratively with the scholars to identify their needs and promote support structures that are in place throughout campus. Mentors are a big part of Stoutward Bound.
Domonique Sturrup, a junior majoring in food science and technology from the Bahamas, signed up to be a mentor because she enjoys helping others and knew the stress of starting school without knowing others. “I was at a loss when I went to college,” she noted. “I want to help others with that all that I can.”
Students from different backgrounds and cultures come together and learn together in Stoutward Bound, Sturrup said.
Jon Rosario, a sophomore majoring in industrial design from Ijamsville, Md., is a mentor. Last year he took his courses virtually. He did take part in a virtual Stoutward Bound as well but did not participate in any of the events.
He wanted to help mentor other students because he never had one growing up and was bullied by other students for his race and Christian faith.
“I wanted to do my part to help them achieve their dreams,” Rosario said. “I want to help make someone else’s path through college as good as I can.”
UW-Stout is Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University, with a focus on applied learning, collaboration with business and industry, and career outcomes.
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