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Health Professions Residential College celebrates 20-year anniversary


The 2019 first-year class of the HPRC poses in front of the CMU seal by Warriner Hall.

(Courtesy Photo | Katherine Ruth)

Central Michigan University's Health Professions Residential College is celebrating its 20-year anniversary. 

The residential college will be celebrating the anniversary in conjunction with Homecoming events on Oct. 12. The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions tent in Alumni Village will be celebrating the anniversary.

"We'll have students walking in the parade, and at the alumni tent we will have old pictures and scrapbooks from throughout the years," HPRC Director Pat Cwiek said. 

In 1999, founding Dean of CHP Stephen Kopp worked with Residence Life to create a health professions living and learning community.

Later, a group of students in the living and learning community invited Cwiek, who was hired to teach a health professions seminar, to help them turn the community into a program.

With approval from Kopp and Residence Life, the group began to research and brainstorm ideas to transform the community into a residential college. 

"As we came up with the ideas, I would draft them on the computer and send those off to the dean of the College of Health Professions first and then to Residence Life to get approval," Cwiek said.

Later that year, HPRC was off to an official start with a small student board in place and Cwiek as the director. Now, the student board is nearly three times the size of the original.

The HPRC 2001 group helped tear down tents at Camp Linden.

"In 1999, the original idea of the residential college was to have a way to help students adjust more successfully and stay on to finish a degree," said Cwiek. "Our program has evolved to help students not only come in and transition successfully, but also begin preparing to be competitive with graduate school programs in health care."

Elliah Redden, Monroe sophomore and HPRC E-Board Scholarship Chair, said the program is unique because it works to get students involved in the community and prepare for the real world, while making connections with one another.

"My favorite part of the HPRC is the welcoming community we have," Redden said. "It's pretty cool to be a member of the HPRC during this anniversary because this program has only gotten better throughout the years and I am able to make my own impact during its 20th year."

The anniversary will bring together alumni and current students to network and relive their memories, careers motives and advice. Cwiek posted questions to an HPRC alumni Facebook group to get quotes, stories and life updates and worked with the Office of Alumni Relations to send invitations to 2,000 HPRC alumni.

Shanna Britt, an HPRC alumnus who graduated in 2015, said the Residential College provided a supportive community where everyone celebrated each other's accomplishments.

"The night I found out I had gotten accepted to Mayo Clinic’s physical therapy program, as I came back up from our board meeting, one of the residents on our floor ran up ahead," Britt said. "She got everyone on the floor out in the hall, announced I had gotten accepted, and the hallway just exploded! It was a truly incredible, humbling and deeply touching moment."

Britt graduated from the Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences Doctor of Physical Therapy Program in Rochester, Minnesota in 2018. She currently works at the Mayo Clinic Methodist Hospital as an acute care physical therapist, working specifically with oncology patients.

"It helped me become such a well-rounded candidate for grad school with the various activities encouraged/required, but it was so much more than that," Britt said. "That’s the amazing thing about the HPRC—when you look at the surface and the statistics, there are countless reasons to be a part of it, countless opportunities to help better yourself professionally and achieve your goals.

"The HPRC was a big part of my life. I really poured my heart and soul into the program and it really gave it all back to me."