Starting college is probably the most normal thing you can be nervous about.
Most of those jitters have probably faded, but just to make sure, The Pointer Unity Program, commonly referred to as PUP by students across campus, is here to help.
The program was created by health promotion students and is directed towards students who are interested in health majors, but the program accepts undeclared majors as well.
“PUP is a leadership program that helps new freshman and transfer students explore who they are and what they are capable of and have a sense of connectedness and belonging to a group of people that share similar
outlooks on health and wellness,” said health promotion student and PUP mentor, Heather Dopkins.
Another PUP mentor and health promotion student, Alyssa Grams, joined PUP because it sounded exactly like the kind of program her freshman self needed.
“The program is unique because it is a place to go if you are struggling with something and simply need someone to chat with,” Grams said. “What’s great is that we don’t try to give you advice or tell you what to do; instead, we help you explore what you are truly wanting and how to get there.”
Mentors also help students learn about themselves and help overcome barriers to thrive in each of the seven dimensions of wellness: physical, emotional, spiritual, career, environmental, social and intelligence.
“The program is all about you and exploring who you are while also diving into the health and wellness field,” Dopkins said.
The program began last spring as a practicum for students within the health promotion major.
Students who signed up for the practicum became mentors and recruited 17 new freshman and transfer students at orientation to be mentees, or “pups”.
“The program is unique to health promotion and unique to Stevens Point,” Dopkins said. “People have been going to our supervisor, asking her to attend conferences and speak about the program.”
Being a part of the program aided incoming students in forming a community on campus before they even came to school.“My mentees said that it was nice to see a familiar face on the first day of classes and that it’s nice to have a group of people to go to for information,” Dopkins said. “They like knowing we’re always here for them.”
The program isn’t only beneficial for new freshman and transfer students, but is a unique experience for the mentors as well.
“I would have never gotten the chance to meet these underclassmen because we would have never had classes together. It’s cool getting to know them,” Dopkins said.
“Working with people as a mentor in the PUP program has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my college career,” Grams said. “I’ve had the privilege to witness people grow, learn, and become and it’s been amazing.”
Emma St. Aubin