Choosing a major and a career path can be difficult for college students. The MYPath program, the product of a unique partnership between the Undergraduate Advising Office, Bryant’s award-winning first-year Gateway, and the University’s Amica Center for Career Education, offers guidance and support to undecided, or “exploratory,” students. At Bryant, students have until the end of sophomore year to declare a major.
At the heart of the MYPath program are the MYPath Mentors, students drawn from every course of study who are passionate about sharing the experiences. The mentors are available throughout the school year for students seeking advice or information. “The mentors can talk first-hand about their experience, the resources they’ve taken advantage of, and what it’s really like to study in a given department,” says Academic Advisor Douglas Hillis. “It’s a real source of support for students.”
“MYPath is a great way to figure out all of the options you have at Bryant,” says MYPath President Hannah Couture ’20. “Students gain perspective on what their education can look like here, whether it’s a new perspective on what they can do within their major or an entirely new direction.”
For Couture, her MYPath experience led her to add a Management major to her studies in Biology. “Hearing another student speak so passionately about their program, I was able to see myself as part of it. It had a huge impact on where I was going.”
The MYPath Showcase, held in the beginning of the spring semester, invites the entire first-year class to meet with faculty and student mentors representing programs in both the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Business to discover the possibilities that majoring and minoring in each subject offer. This year’s keynote speaker, positive psychologist and educator Daniel Lerner, offered students advice on how to find a path that suits their skills and interests.
“It’s a great feeling when you can talk to somebody who might be kind of iffy about what they want to do and then, after your conversation, they have a better idea about how to tap into where their passion lies.”
“Who here knows what we study in Marketing?” Associate Professor Srdan Zdravkovic, Ph.D., asked the students assembled for his session. “Social media,” answered one student. “Psychology,” answered another. “Persuasion,” suggested a third.
“Those are all good answers,” said Zdravkovic. “It’s all of those things and more.” Over the course of an hour, Zdravkovic, aided by mentor and Marketing student Nicholas Garrigan ’19, gave students an overview of the range of marketing classes they could take at Bryant, what they would learn, and the amazing places their education could take them.
The showcases, Zrdravkovic explained, aren’t meant to recruit students to majors. Instead they’re designed to give them the understanding they need to make informed choices and take control of their studies. “This is an attempt to help our students find their path,” he said. “All of the information they pick up today is helpful. It’s helpful to learn about all their options and compare them side by side.”
Part of the journey
For the MYPath mentors, the program offers the chance to share information about the subjects they love. “I get so excited to talk to students about the Literary and Cultural Studies program,” said MYPath Mentor Elana Williams-Leonard ’19. “If they’re interested in media, for instance, I can tell them that we have a media and cultural studies minor. I can tell them, 'Oh it sounds like you’re interested in this, so you might want to check this program out or talk to this professor.'”
MYPath, she point out, is useful for everyone, even students who might already have found their major. “Sometimes students who are in other majors will ask me, ‘How can I use this program to contribute to my studies?’ And I’ll talk to them about how studying a range of different areas, and taking a little from each, can set you apart.”
Being part of their journey, she says, is incredibly rewarding. “It’s a great feeling when you can talk to somebody who might be kind of iffy about what they want to do and then, after your conversation, they have a better idea about how to tap into where their passion lies.”