Bryant’s MyPATH (Make Your Passion and Talent Happen) program unites a cross-section of University to offer first-year students guidance and support in choosing a course of study. It also helps them figure out who they are and who they’d like to become.
“One of the most important elements of achieving your potential and becoming a leader is having purpose in what you do,” states Academic Advisor Douglas Hillis, one of the program organizers. “To do that, you need to think about what is meaningful to you and what brings you joy.”
“You’re going to have a job and career after college. Why not find something that you really enjoy doing and get really good at it?”
A unique partnership among the Undergraduate Advising Office, Bryant’s award-winning first-year Gateway, and the University’s Amica Center for Career Education, MyPATH helps students consider what they can offer the world and what they find fulfilling. In exploring their best fit, students get to "step back and think about their personalities, their communication styles, their values, and their passions,” notes Associate Director of Career Services Veronica Mansour. “By working together, we can show them all the different opportunities.”
Student mentors are a key element of that approach. The mentors, representing every course of study, offer information and advice throughout the school year. “You’re going to have a job and career after college,” MyPATH mentor Hannah Couture ’20 points out. “Why not find something that you really enjoy doing and get really good at it?”
“I remember going to the MyPATH Showcase and attending a management session. All the things they were talking about were all the things that I liked and wanted to do in my career. It helped me decide what I wanted to study."
MyPATH goes beyond the logistics of earning a degree. "It's a program that lets you talk to more experienced students about you want to do,” explains Couture. “You can see what they’ve actually done in their studies, and get a sense of the different academic programs both from the technical side and in application.”
The mentors enjoy the experience. “Some had their own struggles deciding their major. Others came in wanting to pursue a certain path but had their eyes opened to all the possibilities," says Academic Advisor Kristin Pidgeon, who also helped organize the program. "All of them, though, want to help make the journey for first-year students just a little bit easier.”
Charting a path
The MyPATH Showcase, held in the beginning of each spring semester, invites the entire first-year class to discover the possibilities that majoring or minoring in each subject offers. Each academic department hosts breakout sessions at which first-year students talk to faculty and students. “Through the showcase, student can hear from a department chair, talk about the curriculum, and learn what classes they’ll be taking as well as what kind of careers they could have if they were to enter that field,” says Hillis.
“I remember going to the MyPATH Showcase and attending a management session. All the things they were talking about were all the things that I liked and wanted to do in my career,” notes MyPATH Mentor Alison Simboski ’20. “It helped me decide what I wanted to study.”
“When you realize that you can actually apply your studies to your interests, that’s a beautiful thing,”
In this year’s Finance and Financial Services breakout sessions, for instance, N. Asli Ascioglu, Ph.D., Professor of Finance and Department Chair, walked students through the options they could pursue, and Lindsey Coe ’21 and Jennifer Andrea ’20 shared their experiences with the program. After the session, Ascioglu stayed to talk with students who had professed interest in joining Bryant’s prestigious Archway Investment Fund Program and encouraged them to seek her out if they had more questions about anything in her field.
“MyPATH is important to help students understand the paths and the opportunities that are open to them,” says Ascioglu. “It also helps them to understand what they can do early in their college career to prepare for further on.”
For Coe, being a mentor was a chance to give back. As a first-year student, "I didn’t know much about the different Finance tracks but I was able to talk to someone who was able to help me figure it out,” she says. “It’s really cool to have a student talk to you peer-to-peer.”
“In the classroom, we strive to help students question old assumptions and consider new possibilities. MyPATH is an opportunity for them to do that as it relates to their own educational paths and their lives."
Making it work
Across the hall, English and Cultural Studies Lecturer Ryan Marnane, Ph.D., accompanied by Kayla Batalha ’22, brainstormed with students on developing plans for turning their passions into academic pathways and careers. “When you realize that you can actually apply your studies to your interests, that’s a beautiful thing,” noted Marnane, as he worked with a student to think through ways to combine his love of film with his passion for analytics.
“Sometimes students start by thinking about a specific job, then try to figure out a major that will get them there. Following your passions and interest is so much more beneficial,” says Batalha. “College is the time to explore and figure out what’s meaningful to you and what you can offer.”
MyPATH, Marnane suggests, is an extension of Bryant’s mission to inspire innovators and impact thinkers. “In the classroom, we strive to help students question old assumptions and consider new possibilities. MyPATH is an opportunity for them to do that as it relates to their own educational paths and their lives. My hope is they walk away open to new possibilities,” he said.
“You can make whatever path you want work. You’re limited only by your imagination,” Marnane added. “You just have to figure out how to get your schedule to work, and we have an entire department of undergraduate advisors who can help you make that happen.”