Student Impact is Harding’s four-day orientation program geared toward incoming freshmen and transfer students, according to Dr. Kevin Kehl, dean of student success. It features activities aimed at welcoming incoming freshmen and transfer students to Harding.
During Impact, incoming students are placed in energy groups based on the Bible course they are registered for; the energy groups are designed for students to get to know other first-year students.
As a result, incoming students were placed with others who would be in Bible class with them that semester. Kehl said it is beneficial for the students to form relationships with the people they will see every day throughout their first semester.
In addition to Impact, the energy group leaders are also the peer guides for that particular Bible class. Kehl said the peer guides get to know their Bible class, and the incoming students build relationships with their peer guides.
This is Kehl’s second year as director Impact. He said all of the new initiatives, such as the Bible class energy groups, are a learning experience. Kehl said he is looking forward to watching these ideas and programs develop for future students.
The Center for Student Success is still evaluating how well the new idea of energy groups as Bible classes is working. Kehl said the feedback has been mainly positive from the students.
Sophomore Ethan Compton who was an energy group leader last year said he assisted the peer guides and thought it was a great opportunity for new students to form bonds with each other and upperclassmen.
Compton said it was fun showing the students places in Searcy and acclimating them to campus life during Impact.
Freshman Reece Johnson said he and the students in his Bible class bonded because of the connections they formed during Impact.
“We got to see what it was really like at Harding,” Johnson said. “We asked questions about each other and broke down the cultural barriers many of us felt.”
Johnson said having Impact student-run makes it a more enjoyable experience. He said there is less pressure on the incoming students when their leaders are college students who can answer questions and encourage them.
This year sophomore Dakota Ellis and junior Abby Smith are the student co-directors of Impact. Smith and Ellis have chosen an executive committee that oversees videos, events and the various activities that make Impact run smoothly.
Kehl said nine committees running Impact. Over 175 students are involved in making Impact happen, according to Kehl.
Smith said the most important thing she and Ellis want to convey to the incoming freshmen is that the people here are on their side. She said they want new students to feel and see the love of Christ.
She said it is important for students to realize the big picture of Impact and support the changes that are made to the program.
“This is a fresh start for people,” Smith said. “I want them to become who they want to be by showing them how loved and desired they are in our Harding community.”
Student Impact 2016 is August 18-21. Smith said the 2016 theme for Impact is “Live in the Moment.”
“We hear all the time that life is made of little moments — so live in the moment,” Smith said. “However, life is a breath and over in a moment, so each moment should be lived for God.”