Getting a passport allows one to travel the world, experience new cultures and try new things. And while Chestnut Hill College’s version of a passport doesn’t take you outside of the country or even the city for that matter, it shares the goal of getting students outside of their comfort zone.
More than 10 years ago, Chestnut Hill College initiated its Passport Program as a way to engage first-year students in academic and student life on campus. According to Kim Cooney, Ed.D., director of student success, who has run the program for the past two years alongside Krista Murphy, Ph.D., dean of student life, and Cecilia Cavanaugh, SSJ, Ph.D., dean of the school of undergraduate studies, the mission is threefold: to get first-year students involved, to utilize the College’s resources and to help students become intellectually stimulated members of the College community.
“The Passport Program provides this outlet of saying, ‘here are all of these opportunities to learn more about yourself, your college, your peers, and to challenge yourself to grow,’” says Cooney.
Students receive their passports at the beginning of their First-Year Initiative class. Each student is responsible for visiting six events, which range from career development workshops to academic lectures to club events and just about everything in between. Approximately 50 to 75 passport events are offered each semester (19 are already planned for October) which allows flexibility for the students.
“We’ve stuck with six because it’s really just enough where students are picking to attend events they are already interested in while also challenging themselves to try something new, to step out of their comfort zone in a way they might not have otherwise done,” says Cooney.
By design, passport events are offered at all days and times, including nights and weekends, to accommodate as many students as possible. But if your availability is so stretched that you can’t attend enough events, Cooney says that there are also individual ways to fulfill your passport requirements.
“Students can do things on their own such as utilize one of the resource centers — math, writing or foreign language or schedule a time with the Office of Career Development to do a resume if they missed the workshop,” she says. “We really just want to ensure that every student has the opportunity to get involved in a variety of programs offered here at the College.”
While the Passport Program is only for first-year students, one of the program’s goals is to increase engagement among the campus community beyond just that first year. To that point, Cooney believes the program has had great success.
“I’ve had students go to an academic lecture with a faculty member and then get really interested in the topic and maybe choose a minor that way or they go to a club event and become really involved with that club after the fact,” she says. “It’s pushing students to try new things and ultimately that’s part of what we hope happens during their time at college.”
For a full schedule of upcoming passport events, visit the CHC calendar.
—Marilee Gallagher ’14