Jade Paquin, second from left“I heard about Alma College through a friend who was already set on going here,” says Muskegon junior Jade Paquin. “She kind of dragged me along.”
Paquin had initially planned on going to a community college and then transferring. Her campus visit changed that, and she decided to apply to see how much it would cost.
Then her parents saw her acceptance letter in the mail.
“They were like, ‘You’re getting this much money?’” she says. She went to another campus visit day — this time, with her parents.
“They were like, ‘Yeah, we like it. We think that this is a really good fit,’” says Paquin.
When she came to Alma, she ended up rooming with the friend who had brought her on the campus visit.
“My dad went to community college, but he didn’t have the experience of living on his own,” she says. “It would have been nice to have someone relatable, like ‘living in dorms is like this, and classes are like this.’”
That’s when a student on her competitive cheer and STUNT team introduced her to the King-Chavez-Parks Mentor Program. The KCP Program is for first-year students, including those who are among the first in their families to go to college.
KCP mentorsStudents in the KCP program participate in a variety of events, including cookie decorating, movie nights and eating lunch with faculty mentors. They take trips to cider mills, baseball games and sledding hills. They also participate in Alma’s Relay for Life, financial literacy workshops, academic success seminars, service projects and meet-and-greets with speakers that come to campus.
The best part about the program is having someone to go to with questions, which is especially valuable for first-year students, she says.
“I like how it gives you another resource and person to go to that you don’t have to feel weird about asking,” she says.
Paquin was a mentee her first year at Alma. Now she’s a mentor.
“It was a three- or four-day training session,” she says. “We did a ton of team-building then, just so everyone knew how to work together and rely on another mentor to help with your mentees if you had any problems or didn’t know how to connect.”
She was compelled to become a mentor because she understands the feeling of being homesick.
“That was such a weird feeling because I was always the kid that was like, ‘I want to go to my friend’s house and stay there because I don’t want to be home,’” she says.
“I just thought it was important to be there for someone else because I definitely experienced homesickness for the first time ever, and it was weird. I was like, ‘I’m sure I’m not the only one.’”
Another aspect of the KCP program that Paquin likes is that there are plenty of activities for her to attend. The cheer team practices four days a week, competes on weekends and cheers at basketball games, so she can’t make every KCP event — and that’s OK.
“A challenge is balancing schoolwork and other commitments with practice and competitions,” says Paquin, who is majoring in Integrative Physiology and Health Science and Healthcare Administration.
One of the best parts about her cheer team: they have each other’s backs.
“My team is always there for me,” she says. “They help me through challenges during practice and with academics; they are my family here at Alma.”