GREENEVILLE – New traditional students immersed themselves in all things Tusculum University for three days as they began their journeys toward graduation and their careers with activities that built their relationships with fellow Pioneers and provided them with information they need to succeed.
The university welcomed these students from multiple states and countries with enthusiasm by holding the first phase of Pioneer WOW from Thursday, Aug. 17-Saturday, Aug. 19. Faculty and staff members, along with some returning students who served as Pioneer Peers, helped the students become acclimated to their new home with a host of activities that kept the students active virtually nonstop.
“We thoroughly enjoyed giving our students the opportunity to see firsthand how much fun they will have during their time at Tusculum and the support network by their side from their arrival through graduation and beyond,” said Claire Hensley, associate vice president of student affairs and retention. “With the friendships they have developed and the opportunities to interact with faculty and staff, these new students will feel comfortable and valued on campus as they engage in their studies.”
Including those enrolled in graduate, online dual enrollment programs, Tusculum has 490 new students for the fall semester. This is an increase of about 150 students from a year ago.
Pioneer WOW activities
Move-in for residential students was Thursday morning, Aug. 17, followed by a wonderful lunch provided by local churches. Then, the residential and commuter students embarked on Pioneer WOW activities, including competitive games, service work, trivia, spiritual messages, movies and delicious desserts. They also learned about the many resources Tusculum offers outside the classroom. These resources illuminate the university’s caring Christian environment and equip students to be career-ready professionals.
“I have enjoyed meeting all of the other freshmen and widening my spectrum a little bit,” said Macey Snapp, who is from Chuckey and graduated from South Greene High School. “There are people from a bunch of different places, and it’s great to meet so many different personalities and come together as a freshman class.”
Her favorite activity was the Amazing Race/Scavenger Hunt in which the students participated in a range of activities at eight places on campus.
“It was a lot of fun running around everywhere with my group,” she said. “I feel like my group really bonded and worked together on that.”
Snapp, who is pursuing a degree in sports science with plans to become an athletic trainer, was aware of Tusculum before she enrolled because she lived in Greene County. But the weekend of activities gave her additional perspective about the university.
“Going through Pioneer WOW made me realize all of the connections Tusculum has in town and how it can help me into the workforce as I grow up and how it can help better me as a citizen and to give back,” Snapp said.
Kash Altom, who is from Knoxville and is seeking a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, liked the outdoor activities and being able to walk around campus and speak with people in his group from different athletic teams. He also highlighted the Amazing Race/Scavenger Hunt as his favorite activity, saying it was fun to go to the different places around campus at a frantic pace.
Other activities that appealed to him were trivia during dinner on Thursday and lunch Friday with representatives of the Criminal Justice Department.
Serving the homeless
During the Freshman Day of Service on Saturday, students prepared care packages for and wrote notes to individuals served by the Tennessee Valley Coalition for the Homeless, which serves 12 counties.
Dr. Shelby Ward, director of Tusculum’s Center for Civic Advancement, said the students made 500 bags, which contained items such as shampoo, toothpaste, a toothbrush, gloves, socks hand warmers, tissue, face masks and hand sanitizer.
“We wanted students to see that they could make a big difference, especially when they come together, with not a lot of time and effort,” Dr. Ward said. “The more people that work on a project, the more impact that it can have.”
Macrea Love, director of outreach for TVCH, had similar thoughts.
“It’s incredibly meaningful to have all these freshmen dedicating a part of their day to make an impact,” he said. “I hope they can realize just how important something small like making these care bags can be in someone’s life. For somebody who is living on the streets or living in a tent in the woods, to get a note from somebody saying that they care and to be provided with basic hygiene items and essentials that we take for granted every day gives them a sense of dignity and hope moving forward.”
Messages from Tusculum leaders
Dr. Scott Hummel, Tusculum’s president, said Pioneer WOW helps students establish relationships and develop the skills and abilities to be a successful student. During the Pioneer Ceremony, he expressed his delight that these students had joined the Tusculum family and said they had made the best choice by enrolling at the university.
He then discussed the Tusculum theme for this year – “Called for a Purpose” – which comes from Isaiah 42:6. He read the passage and then discussed it in detail.
“Regardless of your background, God has called each one of you and given you a purpose,” Dr. Hummel said. “You are not alone in fulfilling your purpose because God promises, ‘I will hold you by your hand and keep you.’ Even if you do not yet know your purpose, Tusculum is a place to discover your purpose and to be equipped to fulfill it.”
Dr. Jacob Fait, vice president of enrollment management and financial aid, whose admission team led the efforts to recruit these students to Tusculum, encouraged the students to use all of the amenities available to them.
Among his challenges to the new students were to make additional friends, participate in all of the activities the Office of Student Affairs has planned, explore civic engagement and service opportunities through the CCA, utilize the Center for Academic Success and Tutoring and come to know their professors. He also encouraged first-generation students and students from low-income family as well as those with disabilities to join the Student Support Services program.
“Whether you realize it or not, this set of challenges is one that will help you build a foundation for success in your academic journey at Tusculum,” Dr. Fait said. “Recent alumni have used their own challenges to start their own businesses, obtain impressive promotions, fight COVID-19 on the front lines, publish and present their research and write their own literary pieces. We are very excited to witness you, our most recent Pioneers, as you chart your course and make truly monumental impacts on your community.”
The second phase of Pioneer WOW runs from Sunday, Aug. 20-Saturday, Aug. 26. It features fewer activities since classes begin Monday, Aug. 21, but helps maintain the sense of community developed in the initial phase. Phase 2 contains activities for all Tusculum students.