It was back to school for both students and their families this past Family Day, held Saturday, Oct. 5. Kean students' families were invited for a full day of all things Kean as they toured with their loved ones to preview what a day in the life of a Kean student was like.
The day's events began at 9 a.m. with tours, talks and workshops happening all over campus. Many families opted to enjoy a private tour from their student as they walked them through what a day in their life was like.
Families were able to attend a variety of informative workshops on subjects such as study abroad, career & internships, learning commons resources, mental health and awareness, residential life, Nathan Weiss Graduate College, first-generation students and more.
One workshop presented Kean's new initiative titled Kean University's First Generation Student Mentorship Program to families. The program is hosted by the Office of Student Success and Retention and is headed by Managing Assistant Director of Retention Elvis Gyan. This semester marks the first time this program has been offered to students. Gyan explained that Kean University recognized that first generation college students face unique obstacles that may affect their success and retention at the university. The office's goal is to help all student populations on campus excel by providing them with various resources adapted to their specific needs. Thus, this program was created as an additional layer of support and resources so that they may succeed at the same rate as every other student population on campus. The program aims to support students through mentorships, programs, newsletters, emails, incentives and one-on-one guidance.
"With first generation college students specifically, if there are questions, if there are transitional challenges they are experiencing, I want them to be able to reach out to me. [They can] email, stop in or give me a call and I can provide that support because I myself am also a first generation college student and I experienced a lot of challenges going through that process because I just didn't know and I didn't have anyone else who knew that process of going through college. So, having to navigate that on my own proved very difficult. I've experienced that. I know how hard it can be, but I do want first generation students to know that we do have tons of support for them so they should not feel that they are not supported or do not have that additional layer of support or do not have any type of help of here. I'm here and our office is here to be able to help them excel during their time here at Kean University," said Gyan.
There were a variety of workshops available on Family Day. Some workshops enlightened parents on ways Kean is supporting their students, while others gave parents advice on ways they may support their student.
The day was a rare opportunity for students and their families to experience Kean University together. Many students not only invited their parents, but also their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and siblings to the event. Senior psychology major, Tyler Cook, enjoyed touring her family through the Kean campus.
Cook said, "I think [Family Day] is amazing; having them see everything, they're amazed because they didn't realize how big [Kean University] was or what Kean is really about or what they do. So, it's cool."
Cook mentioned that Family Day has been a great opportunity for her family to see a different perspective of Kean, inspiring them to ask her many questions throughout the day. Proud families could be seen at any moment taking photos at different places on campus or with the Cougar mascot.
Many families also enjoyed the various games and activities happening throughout the day. Younger siblings of students particularly enjoyed the different obstacle courses, Jenga tower and corn hole game. Their joy was infectious as members of the Kean community would periodically join the children in these activities.
Families were also given meal vouchers and had the option to enjoy any one of Kean's eateries including Smashburger, Starbucks, Cougar's Den and Auntie Anne's. Families that opted to eat at Cougar's Den could also play against other families in a round of the Involvement Center's Eat 'n' Play Trivia Game Show.
Interacting with their students in a college setting made many parents realize how mature their Kean students had become since coming to Kean. One parent, Cyanne Pringle, mentioned how her daughter has grown more responsible in her first semester at Kean by setting her own schedule and living on campus.
"It's made me grow and learn to let her be out on her own and see her grow as an adult. It's good to watch," said Pringle.
Family Day concluded with an opportunity for families to cheer for the Kean football team as they played and came out victorious against Christopher Newport University, 30-6, ending the day's events on a happy note.