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Carthage-Bound Pre-orientation Program Welcomes New Students

They’re among the first newcomers to arrive on campus each year, and the transition to college can be intimidating for Firebird student-athletes, particularly students of color.

Based on initial feedback, a new Carthage College pre-orientation program is helping those newcomers to navigate the college experience with confidence.

This fall, the Office of Equity and Inclusion held the first Carthage-Bound Football Camp for team members from historically underrepresented racial minorities. The five-day program introduced 26 new Firebirds to some of the people, places, and programs they’ll rely on most.

“Many football players come to Carthage far from their home communities and families, and the challenge of finding resources on an unfamiliar college campus, while juggling classes and hours of practice every day, resulted in retention struggles,” said Michele Han- cock, vice president of college culture for inclusion. “Building a sense of community and belonging while introducing students to campus supports from day one will help these young men be successful.”

Discussions and ice-breakers helped the student-athletes set goals and identify the many places on campus they can turn for support.

“I didn’t know how I was going to adjust to college, but I can say I’ve had a great start so far,” said JJ Fletcher, a defensive lineman who plans to major in criminal justice. “With Carthage-Bound, I feel like I’m a part of this school.”

 As a “football mom,” chemistry professor Christine Blaine connected easily with the new Firebirds. “The students were engaged, funny, reflective, and asked excellent questions,” she said. “I found the entire experience uplifting. I remember driving home that night thinking how I look forward to watching these students grow.” Surveys indicated about 95 percent of Carthage-Bound participants said the program is worth continuing.