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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Reflecting back on SophoMORE PSIP


For twelve years, incoming St. Joe’s students have had the opportunity to participate in the Philadelphia Service Immersion early-arrival program (PSIP). As a first impression of college, most students come out of this experience with new friends, countless memories and excitement for all St. Joe’s has to offer.

Last year’s incoming class missed this opportunity due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, this year student leaders offered an adapted program, SophoMORE PSIP, so that the class of 2024 could still have the experience.

“We wanted to give [sophomores] the experience they missed with our regular PSIP… [and] show them the difference that the community on Hawk Hill can make in your life,” said Blaise Doyle ’23, the program director.

PSIP is a four-day early-arrival program where first-year students are introduced to St. Joe’s, college-life and the wider Philadelphia area through service opportunities, reflection and community. The adapted sophomore program placed an emphasis on the word “more,” because it was all about getting more out of the St. Joe’s experience that the class missed out on last year.

Although this program is usually intended to acclimate students to college-life, Doyle said the sophomore program wasn’t really different from the first year program.

“We didn’t have to teach [sophomores] or give them advice on how to be a college student because they already knew,” Doyle said. “But we wanted to show them the real St. Joe’s experience and how we stand apart from other schools.”

Julianna Pollander ’24, was able to gain a lot from the program as a sophomore.

“I thought last year was great, to be honest, even with all the restrictions,” Pollander said. “But when this year started, I was like, ‘wow, there’s a lot more to St. Joe’s than what I thought.’”

One aspect participants got “more” of was learning about Jesuit values, which focuses on solidarity and being with and for others. Emily Ash ’23, a SophoMORE PSIP leader, found that her group and co-group really dove into the values. She said she noticed how the participants talked so profoundly about them.

“It was really amazing to see that because that’s something you maybe learn freshman year,” Ash said. “It was really great to get to see them get those things out of their experience after such a hard year.”

In addition to Jesuit values, the program also brought a sense of community to participants. Pollander found that PSIP was a great way to meet and connect with new people, which was difficult due to COVID-19 restrictions during her first year.

“I was just so excited to meet new people, because I honestly didn’t go out that much last year,” Pollander said. “I had a few really close connections, but I had a lot of surface level friendships. I wanted something that was going to go deeper than that.”
Pollander found that the program made it really easy to connect with others and found those connections really helped her to grow as an individual.

“I barely knew the people going into my group, and then I just immediately felt comfortable to share my story. I was shocked by that,” Pollander said. “That really spoke to me on how much I grew without even realizing it within those few days.”

The opportunity for sophomores to participate not only gave the class of 2024 back a missed opportunity, but allowed transfer students, who would not typically get the opportunity, to experience the program as well.

Jeffery Russel ’24 transferred to St. Joe’s from La Salle University largely due to the Jesuit values and service-oriented atmosphere on campus. PSIP gave Russel what he was looking for right off the bat.

“Not only was I able to do a lot of good service within the Philadelphia area with people who I love, I actually got to meet a lot more people,” Russel said. “Coming in as a transfer student, I knew virtually nobody. So, I got to meet a lot of cool people who were mission driven, service driven and really had all those same passions as I did.”

Doyle felt as though it was a week of community and growth for both participants and leaders.

“[PSIP] means something different to everyone, but at the end of the day, the mission of learning about the city of Philadelphia, learning about St. Joe’s, and the general values we hold, I feel like that’s universal,” Doyle said.

Having had this experience, many participants are going into sophomore year with a tighter community and a better understanding of what the St. Joe’s community is all about.

“I really think [PSIP] helped formulate and set the tone for what sophomore year is going to be,” Russel said. “It’s a tone of community, and [being] mission driven, and just overall positivity, something that I couldn’t get anywhere else.”

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