Regardless of their majors, extracurricular activities, or choices in internships, there’s one thing that WPI students have in common: they’re busy. Therefore, it might come as a surprise that many students are still on the lookout for things to add to their weekly to-do lists.
For first-year students, it might be something having to do with the Great Problems Seminar; juniors are embarking on their IQP experiences both on and off campus; seniors are preparing for life after graduation; and sophomores now have the chance to immerse themselves in a program designed especially for them.
Launched back in 2014, the sophoMORE Success Program (SSP) is made up of a series of workshops and events designed to help second-year students thrive, learn, and connect at WPI. Several events are held each term, and students who attend six or more earn a certificate of completion and a pin that can be worn on their robes at Commencement.
“It’s a safe space to ask questions, be heard, and get connected,” says Angela Romano, who has been overseeing SSP while also working as an advisor for academic support and sophomore programming in the Office of Academic Advising since 2016. “Whether it’s talking to someone from your classes you’ve never spoken to before, meeting faculty members, or connecting with alumni and getting an internship, there are so many benefits of getting involved in the program.”
Students can attend a variety of events and workshops, all with the common goal of further enhancing their time at WPI and in the future. Past program topics have included workshops on work/life balance, time management, and goal setting; an IQP panel and Q&A; alumni networking nights; resume critiques; and support network and self-care events. This year the program’s structure will be changing slightly, with four program focuses—career, academic, personal, and social—per term; students can mix and match events, attend one of each per term, or complete all of one focus in a “track” style.
While Romano works hard to ensure that the programs are informative, she also makes sure they’re engaging and fun. Each year she takes suggestions and feedback into consideration when crafting programs for the following year. For example, after realizing the prominent role the IQP application process plays during most students’ sophomore years, Romano and her team worked to design and schedule more programming around IQP prep.
If student reactions are any indication, Romano’s efforts aren’t going unnoticed.
“The sophoMORE Success Program provided me with opportunities to connect with and learn from mentors I would never have had the chance to normally. Not only did it prepare me for my academics, but it gave me tools to improve myself socially and professionally.” -Tanner Gauthier
“The sophoMORE Success Program provided me with opportunities to connect with and learn from mentors I would never have had the chance to normally,” says Tanner Gauthier ’20. “Not only did it prepare me for my academics, but it gave me tools to improve myself socially and professionally.”
Romano enjoys the time she has with each of the students as they work their way through the program, taking steps toward their future academic and professional goals, implementing effective time management and self-care strategies, or some combination of both. “I love seeing their growth,” she says. “It’s great to be a mentor and resource to them.”
A common theme among participants in the program tended to be the fact that when students met and learned about each other, they realized that they could be each other’s best resources. While specialized resources for career services, academics, and other areas are abundant on campus, several students cited the fact that sometimes what they needed was the ability to connect with someone in the same situation as themselves, balancing classes and intramurals and IQP prep, and sharing ideas on the best ways to do it all.
“The program gave me the opportunity to take a step back and define what I wanted the rest of my college career to look like,” says Maggie Kuck ’19, who participated in SSP during her sophomore year. “I was able to learn, from sessions and my peers, new strategies for academic success and self-care that have positively impacted my time at WPI.”
- By Allison Racicot