IMPACT 2020 introduces incoming students to campus amid a pandemic


Central Michigan University IMPACT mentor coordinator and Midland junior Stella Stark lets incoming CMU students into the Engineering Technology Building on Aug. 13.

Incoming Central Michigan University students received a warm, but restricted, welcome during the 2020 CMU IMPACT program on Aug. 13 and 14.

The university program introduces incoming multicultural freshmen and transfer students to CMU while meeting fellow incoming students. While the program is aimed at multicultural students, anyone is able to participate, mentor coordinator Stella Stark said.

“They get a sneak peek of the campus,” said the Midland junior. “We also give them tips and wisdom on how to succeed in college.”

This year, the IMPACT program had to operate differently than years past due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing and wearing a mask were a requirement during the event. Stark said mentors were told to keep things positive during the sessions by emphasizing services and activities students can utilize instead of the ones that were suspended due to the pandemic.

Incoming students and their upperclassmen mentors were divided up into groups or “families” that were taken to rooms in Brooks Hall, Moore Hall and the Engineering Tech Building with limited capacities to maintain social distancing. Students watched videos and virtual speeches and chatted with their families outside.

Incoming Central Michigan University students and mentors gather in their groups, or "families," during the 2020 CMU IMPACT program on Aug. 13, outside of the Central Michigan Engineering Technology Building.

Director of Student Activities & Involvement Damon Brown spoke to the participants, in which he welcomed incoming students. He said IMPACT assists students in starting their college careers, connect them to campus resources and help develop relationships between fellow freshmen and upperclassmen. He also spoke about staying safe during the students’ freshmen years by following campus health and safety guidelines.

The two-day event also contained a panel and keynote speakers. One of these speakers was CMU alumnus Natilie Williams, an author, college instructor and speaker. She spoke about tips and advice for freshmen coming to CMU. 

She recommended students utilize resources, such as office hours and counseling services, and observe and chat with upperclassmen to gain their knowledge.

“It's a new environment for you, but you are in an environment of people that have already done it (and) that have already succeeded,” Williams said. “You're also in an environment with people that did not succeed or may not be succeeding. So, while a smart person learns from their mistakes, a wise person learns from the mistakes of others.”

Saginaw freshman Lyric Peterson said the speech was straightforward and helped breakdown tips and advice to follow. She also worried about finding new friends with the pandemic restrictions on campus and said programs like IMPACT help with that.

Many enjoyed the multicultural aspects as well. Peterson wanted to jump right into an inclusive environment on campus and incoming Holt freshman Stephanie Venn participated in IMPACT to meet like-minded people.

“Sometimes, especially as a Black woman, when you do well in school, everybody calls you the exception,” Venn said. “(They) don't understand what a slap in the face that is. It’s nice to know that you don't have to be a statistical outlier to be successful with this knowledge."