UpLIFT helps promote the best opportunities beyond classrooms
The Saint Michael’s College UpLIFT program seeks to enhance and diversify students’ experience on campus by helping to promote workshops, presentations, speakers, panelists, leadership opportunities, and more.
As Eben Widlund, director of the Adventure Sports Center and UpLIFT committee member, said, “UpLIFT is a clearing house for other programs on campus that are done through student life, student affairs, academics, student clubs, and almost any department on campus that’s putting an event on that is going to somehow enrich students’ experience.”
UpLIFT is a program that assists in promoting events that are already happening on campus, using incentives, Instagram advertising, posters, and more, said Widlund. In order for an event to qualify for UpLIFT promotion, he said, it must fit under one of three general themes: global citizenship, interpersonal development, and personal wellness.
Events that fall under the theme of global citizenship expose students to diverse perspectives to create global citizens who actively engage in building a more equitable future.
Interpersonal development is an aspect of UpLIFT that aims to teach effective communication, critical thinking, and collaborative working.
The last aspect of the UpLIFT program is personal wellness. This aspect is interested in students’ physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and economic well-being – that is, having healthy lives. Saint Michael’s believes that these aspects of well-being are crucial to the success of students, UpLIFT leaders say.
“As long as it fits in one of those three themes, UpLIFT can sponsor it, Widlund said. “So if a club wants to do an international food fair, that would count for global citizenship,” adding that last year, Bergeron Wellness Center did a weekly yoga session which fell under the personal wellness category.
This program previously went by the name “YouCount,” an acronym standing for “community, ownership, unity in diversity, noticing one another, and taking care of self.” YouCount was a Center for Multicultural Affairs and Services (CMAS) and Residence Life program. In 2019, YouCount coordinators decided the program needed a fresh start with new goals and new branding. “UpLift is definitely a campuswide effort with people from Athletics, Careers, MOVE, Adventure Sport, DEC, Residence Life, etc. being part of the planning committee,” said Dawn Ellinwood, vice president for Student Affairs.
A rollout of UpLIFT was to happen during the fall semester of 2020, but did not due to COVID-19. Instead, a soft rollout occurred during the fall semester of 2021, followed by large success in the spring of 2022 for the program, said Widlund.
In the fall of 2021, UpLIFT three events attracted 54 participants. In the spring of 2022, 21 events had 577 participants.
Coordinators of UpLIFT were ecstatic about this jump in student engagement and only hope that it continues to rise in the coming year. Incentives for attending events have been a key motivator in getting students into events on campus. By going to an UpLIFT event, students have their names submitted for a chance to win a prize either at the event or at the end of the semester during a large drawing of raffle prizes, said Shannon Bollhardt M’15, head women’s basketball coach and UpLIFT committee member.
“In the past, our experience with students has been that they know of an event happening, they don’t really feel like going to it, but then after they went, they were so glad that they did,” said Bollhardt. These events are meaningful, engaging and likely to expand the students perspectives Bollhardt said, and that is at the forefront of the Saint Michael’s mission, so the committee wanted to make these events an exciting endeavor for students.
Widlund agreed, “With the prizes, there’s an extrinsic motivation to go to the events and then once students attend, I think there becomes an intrinsic motivation to keep going to events as well.”
In the future, committee members hope to see clubs and organizations all across campus utilizing the promotional benefits of the UpLIFT program. “I am excited to collaborate with clubs and programs across campus to bring more awareness to the ways students can be engaged on campus and make the most of their college experience,” said Lauren Best ‘24, a secondary education and English double major with minors in creative writing and philosophy from Nottingham, New Hampshire. Best also is part of the UpLIFT committee as a Student Government Association (SGA) co-secretary of programming. “UpLIFT events are an awesome way to give students educational opportunities while having social interactions,” she said.
Best’s personal experience with UpLIFT has been enriching, she feels. The honors faculty panel, held in the spring of 2022, was one event that Best attended and assisted in planning, she said. The event allowed students, faculty, and staff to come together and hold deeper conversations about food insecurity and sovereignty in the U.S., Best said.
This event, among many others, enriched Best’s college experience outside of the classroom while also giving her a space to make connections in her community. “UpLIFT events, panels, and presentations are appealing to the Saint Michael’s community because they’re truly meant for our students,” said Best.
UpLIFT leaders encouraged organizers of all campus events to apply for promotion through the program going to the KnightVision portal and selecting “UpLIFT” on the right hand side. If a club leader has any questions or inquires about the UpLIFT program, he or she should reach out to Eben Widlund at firstname.lastname@example.org.