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Speakers motivate freshmen to build connections and stay in school

By Robert Deckert
Staff Writer

In an effort to support  the incoming freshman population, UNCP held one of its ExCEL programs, “First Year Student Success,” on Sept. 20.            

Hosting  was the professional speaking duo, Troy Stende, who won the best campus speaker award from APCA three times, and his wife, Karin Malkowski Stende, who has her master’s degree in conflict management.

“The goal of the program was to do anything possible to retain freshmen at UNCP  and see them graduate,” Stende said.

Stende said that their presentations were unique because they had students interacting with each other rather than being talked to as in a lecture format.

Director of the Center for Academic Excellence Saundra Richardson said, “Freshmen seminar is the second highest failed course. We are trying to reverse the image.”            

Richardson said that she planned to make many effective efforts to reach out to the freshman population  including bringing in speakers.

“We will use exciting, different methods of trying to have a positive impact on the freshmen, instead of being dull and boring,” said Richardson.            

The presentation used research-based methods that motivated freshmen to interact with others around them and gave them a better understanding of multicultural awareness.                           

“Research has shown that if freshmen are connected to others, as well as the school, they are more likely to stay in school and see their graduation day,” said Stende.

Malkowski said how unfair and inaccurate snap judgments can be and how they can actually hinder freshmen interaction with student peers.            

“We need to get the students passionate about changing the world instead of remaining idle,” Stende said.

The focus of the event was to enlighten students about social justice.                                 

Malkowski said, “If there is injustice somewhere, there is injustice everywhere.”            

The freshmen did exercises centered on educating them about stereotyping and misconceptions of other individuals.

Freshman seminar instructor Darcy Hayes said, “This is a great activity to create awareness among the freshmen.” 

The speakers stressed  that acceptance is more important than tolerance.                 

Freshman William Mock said, “I learned to be positive and that we need to avoid stereotyping.”            

Malkowski said their ultimate goal was to “plant the seeds of acceptance and openness to diversity.”

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Updated: Monday, October 2, 2006
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