Maalik McClinton '16 has his future sights set high. He is a Communications major with an emphasis in Broadcasting and a minor in African American Studies who dreams of one day hosting his own talk show. These dreams weren’t always so clearly set in his mind. When he first started at Grand Valley State University, he wasn’t sure where he would fit in or if college was even for him. He says that becoming a part of the Oliver Wilson Freshman Academy was the first step to becoming who he is today: a confident young man with big dreams.
The Freshman Academy offers peer counseling, academic advising, specialized tutoring, and many more programs that make the transition into college easier for students. “The Oliver Wilson program is there for anyone who needs a little extra help. The advisors help you with your academics, but they also sit down with you to talk about what you need and your experience. If they have to go that extra mile, they will.”
Even though Maalik is no longer a freshman, he says that the Student Support Services and Academic Success centers are still helping him today. During his time at Grand Valley, Maalik changed his major five times before settling on Communications. He credits his transfer into the program to Sulari White, Student Academic Success Center (SASC) Director; V’Lecea Hunter, SASC advisor; and Mike Messner, SASC advisor, who all spent time with him to help him choose a pathway. They talked with him, gave him ability and skill tests, and were there for him emotionally as he selected his future career path. He openly admits that, “Without them, I wouldn’t be here right now.”
After his first year as part of the Freshman Academy, Maalik decided he wanted to become a peer mentor for incoming freshman. “I knew what it was like to struggle through my freshman year,” he says, “I didn’t want other freshman to have to go through that.” Maalik encourages other students to get involved with the many student support services that Grand Valley offers. “No one can do college alone; it’s too hard,” he says. The time Maalik spent at Grand Valley and with the Freshman Academy has given him the confidence he needs to pursue his dreams. In the past, Maalik says he thought asking for help was a weakness, but now he thinks it is empowering. He hopes that he will able to help students throughout his life as the Freshman Academy helped him.
Maalik is thankful to the many donors who supported him at Grand Valley through their support of student support services like the Oliver Wilson Freshman Academy. “Without their help, without them giving the program a chance, people like me wouldn’t have made it. Thank you.”