By Mary Kuberry
Pathways to Peace, a new five-day program that took place just before classes started, engaged students in classroom activities, assessments, and community activities on and off campus through their PDS 100 class. As the first class in the Professional Development Series, PDS 100 is provided for freshmen to learn the basics of college, living on their own for the first time and to help foster a community environment at Peace.
William Peace University had a published retention rate of 59 percent in the 2014-2015 school year, and Dawn Dillon, director of retention and first-year experience, has been hard at work trying to help the new first year students from falling into the 41 percent who leave Peace after their first year.
“The other goal was really to help people fall in love with Peace and that we really want them to feel like this is my community, I belong here, these are my people,” said Dillon.
Dillon put the new program program together with a team of students, faculty and staff.
First year students began their fall semester with the traditional matriculation ceremony where they signed the WPU Honor Code and received their first red roses. The following days were filled with “Student Success Sessions” which separated students into their PDS 100 class to participate in icebreakers and team-building activities.
Students also received advice for the coming school year like what is available around and off campus and how class expectations in college are different from the high schools they just left. Pathways to Peace officially ended with the annual Academic Convocation in Kenan Hall.
“I was nervous to start the school year and to be able to talk to the kids in my PDS-100 class, and to other students, during the social events helped me feel comfortable and at ease,” said freshman Shudon Brown.