K-State First celebrated its fifth birthday with a party in the Hemisphere Room inside Hale Library on Tuesday.
Hosted by K-State First’s director and coordinators, the event was open to K-State First faculty and students. Attendees were treated to cake and lemonade and were encouraged to participate in games and visit the surrounding booths of K-State First partners.
According to K-State First director Gregory Eiselein, five years ago this week marks the anniversary of K-State First’s official launch by the program’s development team. The team hosted a similar celebration in the Union five years ago when the first-year student support program was originally established.
“It actually started a couple of years before that, in 2008, with some pilot studies,” Eiselein said. “We started first with the first-year seminars, and then we tested out the mentoring program, and before that, it went back to discussions among students, faculty and staff and administrators about ways that we could improve the first-year educational experience for students here at K-State.”
In her brief address to guests at K-State First’s party, April Mason, provost and senior vice president, said there was a drastic increase in student participation, an indicator of the program’s growth and success over the last five years.
According to Mason, the program served 639 students in its first year and services around 1,600 students today. Mason said it was great to see how far the program has come.
“(Let’s) look back at where we’ve come from and see how different the program is now and how much larger and stronger and effective it is, and remember why we started it and celebrate that we’re continuing,” Mason said.
Students involved in K-State First today are given access to an established program rooted in the student body and that is supported by faculty and administration.
“I think it’s really nice how it’s just personal connections with students, and especially helping first-year students get kind of into the swing of things because the transition between high school and college can be kind of difficult sometimes,” Cody Porath, freshman in architectural engineering, said.
Nancy King, professor of hospitality management and dietetics, adopted a CAT Community four years ago. King said she believes K-State First to be beneficial not only to students, but to faculty as well.
“I think (K-State First) is unique for any university, and they’ve worked so hard,” King said. “I’ve been in the program for four years, and it’s fulfilling for me. I see the students grow, and as they keep going, they know each other by name. I think it’s just something special that K-State, as a family, puts together.”
Mason said that there is more to K-State First than just assistance in academic adjustment and expressed her desire to continue watching the program flourish.
“It’s a way of engaging students and making them
feel that they’re not a number,” Mason said. “They’re a person, and people care about them –
somebody knows their name.”