Flash Connections Offer Real-Life Experiences for Exploratory Majors
Kent State University offered nine new experiences for exploratory majors this past fall to give those students the opportunity to discover future careers and participate in the Kent community.
Flash Connections, created specifically for exploratory students, was a program with enhanced sections of the required First-Year Experience class. Students from the program earned their experiential learning credit by participating in free trips to different locations in Kent and Northeast Ohio before and throughout the 2016 Fall Semester.
“Students who participate in Flash Connections have opportunities to meet new people, make important connections within the university and surrounding community and learn valuable information related to defining purpose as a Kent State student,” says Michelle Adair, associate director of the Exploratory Advising Center.
There were five sections that included weekend trips around the Northeast Ohio area, including:
A Healthcare program, in which students who were interested in healthcare professions traveled to greater Cleveland for two days and one night to visit and volunteer at health organizations that support needs in the community.
A Helping Professions program, in which students who were interested in volunteerism and the nonprofit industry traveled to Cleveland for two days during the semester to establish a deeper understanding of social justice issues including homelessness, hunger and low-income family displacement.
A Great Outdoors program, in which students interested in environmental science, outdoor recreation and sustainability traveled to Cuyahoga Valley National Park for two days to volunteer with park officials and learn more about how humans impact the environment.
A Celebrating African-American Experiences program, in which students who were interested in the opportunity to explore African-American history and culture traveled to Washington, D.C., to visit the new National Museum of African American History and Culture, as well as other historical sites, museums and thriving black communities.
A Discovering Business program, in which students traveled the Akron area for three days and two nights to visit both for-profit and nonprofit businesses to explore different areas of business, including marketing, finance, accounting and others.
The program also had four sections of the class that focus on campus and community engagement in the local area, including:
A Hunger Pains program that explored nutrition and food insecurity on campus and in the community by getting involved with the Campus Kitchen at Kent State, as well as other service-learning opportunities focused on providing nutritious food to those in need within our community.
A Culture and Values program that explored how beliefs and values directly impact the formation of identity and purpose by having students engage in dialogue with community members from diverse cultural perspectives.
An Identity, Awareness and Action program, which explored the many intersecting identities that exist on campus through the lens of the Kent State Women’s Center.
A Global Voices program that explored international populations within the local community, including international students, immigrants, refugees and migrants.
"Not everyone is interested in overnight trips,” Adair says. “Students also work and have responsibilities that make the local options more appealing. We created the campus and community engagement experiences so that students could participate in a variety of ways.”
Jessica Chunat, a freshman exploratory major, took part in the Discovering Business program this past summer. She visited various small and large businesses in the area including FedEx Custom Critical, the Akron Rubber Ducks baseball team and a small restaurant.
“This trip definitely pushed me more toward becoming a business major than I think I was before the trip,” Chunat says. “I'm not officially a declared business major, but it's one of my top choices.”
Chunat says her experience in this First-Year Exploratory class helped her network with professionals, build her résumé and interviewing skills and develop long-lasting friendships with other people in her class.
“This experience helped me not feel super alone on this big campus,” Chunat says.
Freshman exploratory major Aysia Kemp participated in the Celebrating African-American Experiences program that traveled to Washington, D.C., to visit the new National Museum of African American History and Culture. Kemp says the experience was eye-opening for her.
“I learned so much,” Kemp says. “It was unique to see the information I was learning in my classes relate to the exhibits in the museum.”
Flash Connections has been confirmed for the 2017 Fall Semester, Adair says, but details about next year’s program have not been released.