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March 2022 Featured Campus: California State University, San Marcos

Image of the California State University, San Marcos PAVE team

California State University, San Marcos is this month’s Featured Campus! “CSUSM has really hit the ground running! It is so cool to see how much time and thought they have put into building the foundation of their PAVE program. They met with an academic retention counselor, resulting in the creation of an SOP for PAVE and ideas on how to obtain further training. Additionally, their outreach is phenomenal! They created LinkedIn and Instagram accounts for outreach and hosted a PAVE team party and a Yoga on the Deck event for community awareness,” says PAVE Program Manager Kali Lake.

The CSUSM PAVE team is lead by Team Leader Jonathan Ramer and Veterans and Military-Connected Services Director Dr. Paul Tontz. Their Peer Advisors are Adam Geschwindt and Jordyn Mezzolesta, and Gail Cole-Avent, Associate V.P. for Student Life, serves as the school’s University Champion for PAVE. 

This is their first semester implementing PAVE. They are first focusing the program on their 400 student veterans but have plans to do more outreach and community building with all of their school’s military-affiliated students. “One unanticipated challenge, because our military-affiliated students are so integrated into our center, has been the non-inclusion of them in the program,” says Dr. Tontz. 

“Another challenge, due to COVID and the fact that many students haven’t spent much time on campus, is getting them to come to our center and see that we’re here,” says Jonathan. 

Despite these obstacles, their team’s work is starting to bear fruit: “Reaching out and getting to communicate with all of the various resources has been incredibly rewarding for me,” says Jordyn. Adam adds, “I’ve found it rewarding as well. I’ve been able to provide little tidbits of help and guidance to some of the students I’ve reached out to.” 

“I’ve been most impressed by Jordyn, Adam, and Jonathan jumping right in and launching this program. They’ve really taken the reins and run with it,” says Dr. Tontz. They’re running with it because they recognize the power of peers. “Peer to peer engagement is something that anyone can benefit from. I wish I had it during my last semester of my undergraduate studies,” says Jonathan. 

“[PAVE] can be one of our signature programs on campus that can be advertised as students are looking at which campuses to enroll in. [PAVE] can be your point of contact, your support, your entry to engagement and help you succeed as you move along in your academic career,” says Dr. Cole-Avent. 

Keep this great momentum going, CSUSM!