Project IMPACT sets students up for success in the business world
With more first-generation students attending college every year, it can be a struggle for them to find their footing and see where their degree can take them in the future. With programs like Project IMPACT, students from first-generation families and multicultural backgrounds have the opportunity to gain knowledge of what life is going to be like after they earn their degrees.
Project IMPACT is a suite of programs designed to identify, cultivate, recruit, retain and graduate multicultural and first-generation students. These programs are in place to help identified students access the information needed to achieve in college. All aspects of Project IMPACT include a focus on advising, mentoring and tutoring students to foster their success.
“Project IMPACT is creating and cultivating culturally, emotionally intelligent leaders and giving access in spaces where it has been denied in the past,” said Adonis Wooten-Herron, a graduate of Project IMPACT and a corporate recruiter for Hormel Foods. “This program offers us a voice and representation.”
A big part of the program is the ability for students to shadow alumni in companies that partner with the program, to get a taste for what the job world can look like. “As a first-generation college student, one significant opportunity was demystifying the process of landing a job at a successful company. It is a way for students to connect with companies early in their college careers,” said Careem Gladney, a graduate of Project IMPACT. But Project IMPACT does not just help students through college. It takes the skills they learn in college and helps students apply them toward a real-world role in a career.
“Soft skills such as communication, time management and building relationships were paramount to couple with the technical skills you gain in the classroom,” said Careem. “One of the greatest ways to grow is to be able to influence your team and the greater organizational culture. Soft skills can really elevate your brand and how you get things accomplished.”
Project IMPACT, which is largely funded by support from corporations, makes sure the playing field is level and that all students are getting the best education possible for themselves. This program helps students build a confidence they may not otherwise develop. “These students are confident, they ask questions, diverse in all aspects,” said Adonis. “I think you walk a little taller when you have a backbone of corporate support built into your collegiate experience.”
This program is also beneficial to the companies that hire these students after graduation. Companies are looking to increase their workforce diversity and Project IMPACT has given them the perfect opportunity to do it. “Diversity is a key factor when you think about it: thought process, age, background, race, gender, work history, etc. We want to make sure that our workforce matches the differentiation represented in society,” said Adonis.
Project IMPACT serves more than 1,000 students every year. Since Project IMPACT was implemented in 2008, the multicultural student enrollment has increased 55.8% across Kansas State University.
“We need programs like Project IMPACT to make the American dream real for more young people,” said Careem.