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Two new staff members are joining Campus Life this year. Nicole Magnan Caruso is not only serving as an Associate Director of Campus Life, but she is also the new Director of Outdoor Education. David McGraw is a new Assistant Director of Campus Life, and he is focusing on leadership development.
Caruso comes to Colby from Unity College, where, for the past three years, she has worked as a director of adventure experiences. Her primary role in Campus Life is to get more students involved in the outdoors. "I want outdoor education to be accessible to everyone," she explains. "You don't need to scale mountains to enjoy the outdoors."
A variety of new activities will be made available to students, designed to reach everyone, regardless of their level of outdoor experience. Caruso is teaming up with the Colby Outing Club (COC) and the Mountaineering Club to enhance outdoor programming. She points out, "They already have a good thing going....The structure here is unique; it's nice that you can join these clubs and then borrow their gear for free." Although Caruso doesn't plan to make any major changes to these groups, she hopes to increase student participation. She will also be leading outdoor education workshops and day hikes for students who are merely interested in "getting their feet wet" in the outdoors.
Over the course of the semester, Caruso will be planning for Iced COOT2 (Colby Outdoor Orientation Trip), which is offered to first-year students arriving in January. She is also responsible for the regular COOT2 program in the fall. "I think it's a really amazing program," Caruso notes. However, since it's only her first week at Colby, she admits, "I don't have any big sweeping changes yet." She will ultimately be responsible for recruiting COOT2 leaders, training, logistics and managing COOT2 gear.
Caruso is thrilled to be at Colby and she is excited to introduce more students to the outdoors. "We're in Maine with mountains, oceans and everywhere in between," she says. "We're in the right place for it....I think the outdoors is a birth right."
Another new director, David McGraw, is directing his attention to the student leadership aspect of campus life. He chose to work at Colby because he values the close community of faculty, staff and students. "It is a small college that values tradition, independence, academics, personal growth, social development and community engagement, while still maintaining the desire to change and grow," he observes. "You don't find that everywhere."
McGraw is currently working on two new programs that will be started in the next few semesters. He is organizing a weekend leadership retreat that will take place during JanPlan, as well as a multi-day leadership workshop in the spring. Although these events are still in the planning process, McGraw is optimistic about their success.
Ultimately, these shorter trainings will evolve into a series, similar to the Career Center's Colby Connect program. "In the future, I will be working with the rest of the Campus Life staff to develop a four-year leadership program that will be based on progressive class year and skill level of the individual student," he explains. "I am working on mixing what has been done in the past, as well as bringing in new theories, concepts and program designs. In the end I want to have a program that is grounded, but is still effective in our current culture."
In addition to the student leadership aspect of his job, McGraw himself is serving as an advisor to the Student Programming Board (SPB), the senior class representatives and the Residential Education and Living Department of Campus Life. He emphasizes that he is also the general advisor for all clubs and organizations on campus. McGraw is more than happy to meet with any student to discuss club programming and activities.
Though they have only been here for a short period of time, Caruso and McGraw are excited to be a part of the College and anxious to set their respective plans into action. They encourage students to stop by and visit their offices in Campus Life, which is located on the second floor of Pulver Pavilion. They look forward to meeting many new faces throughout the academic year.