PSU launches new program to engage, empower second-year students to succeed personally and academically
Author: Katy Swordfisk
Posted: October 17, 2019
 When a student begins their second year of college, they often feel left behind. The support offered to first-year students drops off and as a result the drop-out rate increases. A new program specifically for second-year students at Portland State University is designed to fix that problem.

Courtney Shiroma, an associate director for PSU Housing & Residence Life, said the program — known as the Second Year Experience — will empower second-year students to become more engaged with the campus community, enhance their academic and professional success and continue developing their personal identity and purpose.

The program launches this term after several years of development. The final piece was finding a physical location to house second-year students who lived in campus housing previously as part of the First-Year Experience. Located at 1131 S.W. Montgomery St., the newly renovated residence hall — St. Helens — opened this fall.

“We’re not leaving any second-year student behind that's not living in St. Helens,” Shiroma said. 

Any second-year student living on-campus can participate in the new programming, including workshops designed to boost community engagement and connectedness at PSU and within the Portland community. 

One such event scheduled for Nov. 19 is called Dig In. Students will gather to build terrariums and talk about claiming their education.

 Within St. Helens, the Residential Assistants (RA) will follow a new programming model and Residential Curriculum that focuses more on community building and engagement with the student population.

“I would love to see it be a model for the rest of the Resident Assistant team,” said Roberto Valentin, assistant director for Residential Education.

The RAs will, for example, conduct an engagement strategy called Intentional Conversations, which will occur three times per quarter with each resident. 

Referring to the new Residential Curriculum being implemented in the first designated SYE Residence Hall community, “This is something new to us,” he added. “We’re just stepping in and exploring — which is great.”

The partnership with University Success-West Campus, one of Housing & Residence Life’s in-hall after-hours academic support centers, is truly unique. 

The second-year focused community is a newer model and concept for residential students.  

Mike Walsh, executive director of PSU Housing & Residence Life, shared when creating the program they used research, their own experience and data from work they have already done.  In return, they designed a cutting-edge student success program that truly integrates academic support, relational development, and student care all in one. 

“It’s a truly remarkable program that is a model for residential programs around the country,” Walsh said. “I am confident the program will make a big difference in the lives of second-year students.”

Photos by Bruce Bradbury