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Opinion: UMKC’s PAL Program Nurtures Success and Community

Jarrod McDaniel

  In the ever-evolving landscape of higher education, the transition from high school to college can be a daunting experience. It’s a phase where newfound independence is coupled with academic challenges and personal growth. 

  At UMKC an invaluable resource exists to smooth this journey for transfer and first-year students – the Peer Academic Leadership (PAL) Program.  

  “I always tell students it’s undergrad students helping undergrad students,” said Brooke Tanner, PAL Mentor and junior nursing student. “Your professors and advisors are also great resources, but some of them have not been in college in a long time.” 

  This program fosters community and guidance, creating a nurturing environment that helps students navigate their new college life. By pairing each student with a peer who shares their major, it provides insight and a sense of belonging. 

  Imagine being a first-year nursing student. The daunting prospect of nursing school and the rigorous coursework can be overwhelming. This is where your PAL steps in, serving as a mentor. 

  “I’m a nursing major, so a lot of my mentees are pre-nursing students,” Tanner said. “I’m able to help them with which programs to apply for or give them extra study tips for class.”  

  They will offer knowledge for classes, which professors to look out for and give advice on how to excel on campus. It’s like having an older sibling who has already mastered the challenges that are about to be faced.     

    But the PAL Program goes beyond academics. If a college student is struggling to make ends meet, the PAL Program can make connections with resources like the Roo Pantry. PALs can also help connect students with Career Services to find employment opportunities. 

  The beauty of the PAL Program lies not only in its practical assistance but also in the sense of community it generates. PALs offer a friendly face and a listening ear when needed the most. They understand the challenges of college, creating empathy and camaraderie among students.

  “If I could give my freshman self some advice it would be to find beauty in the struggle and appreciate this season of life,” Tanner said. “College has been the best and worst times of my life, but I have been able to find myself here.” 

  The PAL Program is not just for freshmen, it is here for all students who may need help or assistance.

  Located on the second floor of the Atterbury Student Success Center, the PAL Program is accessible and welcoming to all students seeking support. It is not just about surviving college; it’s about thriving. It’s about having a mentor who understands the journey and is committed to helping students achieve their goals.

  “To be able to help the younger students in my program has been cool,” Tanner said.

  The PALs are the unsung heroes of UMKC, and their dedication is a testament to the university’s commitment to student success. No UMKC student is ever on their college journey alone – a PAL is ready to be there every step of the way.

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