Alumni Plaza the center of the Dowagiac campus


Students register for fall classes during orientation

New students register for fall classes

SMC’s New-Student Orientation Underway

Published on May 9, 2022 - 5 p.m.

Seventy-six Roadrunners attended the first of Southwestern Michigan College’s nine new-student, fall-semester orientations.

“We’ve expanded orientation to accommodate more students,” Dean of Student Development Dr. Katie Hannah said. “Having morning and afternoon sessions allows us to serve up to 120 students per orientation day. There are eight more dates throughout the summer to accommodate new students’ availability.”

Sessions continue May 13, May 25 (6-9 p.m.), June 3, 17 and 24 and July 8, 15 and 22 (9 a.m.-noon or 2-5 p.m.)

“We changed and expanded the format of new-student orientation to align ourselves even better with all the things we know about student success,” Hannah said. “Becoming engaged with the campus community from day one increases student success and completion. Touring our beautiful campus, meeting our welcoming staff and orientation leaders, connecting with other new students and creating a schedule for your first semester at SMC with your advisor are some highlights.

“Expanded welcome sessions allow our students to meet our president, as well as many departmental staff to learn more about all the resources available. Our academic team also meets with students to talk about how to become a successful college student. Each student then meets with an academic advisor for advising and registration.

“Resource tables are set up at checkout so students and families can talk to staff in various departments across campus. Having multiple sessions and more students on campus creates an exciting environment for our new students,” she said, adding, “Orientation is one of my favorite days of the year because I love meeting new students and their families. Seeing the excitement of our new students as they make their transition to college is so fun to be part of. Whether our new students are recent high school graduates, transfer students or working adults looking for a career change, orientation meets the needs of all.”

“We want everyone who comes to SMC to feel like they’re part of a family, and that they know where to go to get help you’re going to need at some point in your time as a student,” President Dr. Joe Odenwald said, a green “Pyramid of Student Success” projected behind him.

Odenwald’s five tiers are A Place to Live (“campus is a place to thrive, a learning community to meet people from different backgrounds”); A Major to Embrace (“find something you’re passionate about because we spend our lives working. We might as well like what we’re doing”); A Community to Impact (“everyone brings something unique. Your gifts and talents can strengthen and improve this community”); Enriching Experiences (campus jobs, internships, travel opportunities like April’s history trip to Iowa, South Dakota and Wyoming “expand your horizons outside class”); and Connections to Make (“for your next step, such as a faculty member whose field you’re going into”).

Executive Director of Campus Life Jeff Hooks oversees the three residence halls which are the largest source of student jobs.

Assistant Director of Campus Life Branden Pompey, responsible for clubs and student activities, including Welcome Week. After move-in Aug. 28, until Sept. 1, “We have 12-hour days of activities,” including an illusionist, water-balloon dodgeball, a bonfire, a trail mixer, “ghosts in the graveyard” and an outdoor movie outside the Student Activity Center.

“Another big part of my job is running (the SAC),” which houses the rock-climbing wall, game room and a fitness center. “We facilitate large events,” such as the Renaissance Faire, Campus Bash, October’s Haunted Trail and February’s President’s Ball.

Emily St. Germain, Carole Tate Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) coordinator in Mathews Library, said, “We offer free tutoring and academic support. You can drop in in person or make an appointment to meet with us virtually.”

Assistant Director of Financial Aid Blake Bundy’s office “is here to help you get more money to pay for college,” whether it’s FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), state scholarships and grants or SMC scholarships. Walk-ins are welcome, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Registrar Steve Carlson’s records office confers degrees once requirements are met and processes transfer transcripts.

Provost Dr. David Fleming introduced Deans Dr. Keith Howell, arts and sciences; Dr. Melissa Kennedy, nursing and health services; and Dr. Karen Reilly, business and advanced technology.

“The key to being successful is getting off to a good start,” Fleming said, so SMC offers EDUC 120, a half-semester, one-credit course designed to develop study skills.

“Small class sizes are a huge advantage,” Reilly said. “Community-college students tend to do better at universities because of personalized attention and taking advantage of tutoring.”

“We’re very close to our students,” Kennedy said. “If you don’t show up like usual, your instructors will notice and reach out because we want nothing more than for you to succeed.”