New Student Involvement assistant directors help students stay connected

New Student Involvement assistant directors help students stay connected

For Taylor Dement and Mitchell Plumer, their experiences and campus involvement as undergraduate students helped shape their future work in higher education and new roles at PC.

They both joined the Student Involvement staff shortly before the pandemic and have spent the past semester and summer adjusting and transitioning their programming to help students stay involved with campus.

Taylor Dement, who earned bachelor’s degrees in medical physics and biology from PC in 2013, joined the College as assistant director of Student Involvement for Orientation & Events.

Before his time at PC, Dement worked in GEL Labs in North Charleston before heading to graduate school at East Carolina University, where he earned a master’s degree in physics.

Dement spent several years conducting research and says he developed a passion for student service while at ECU, where he organized and facilitated several orientation and research presentation events.

At ECU, he studied blood clots in the Hudson Lab, taught astronomy in the Physics Department, and headed the logistics for ECU Graduate School’s Research and Creative Achievement Week. His end-goal was to eventually get back to higher education but also do more student service work once he got there.

“The things that brought me back (to PC), or the things I remember the most, are the atmosphere, the welcoming environment and just the family feel that PC has and still has,” Dement said.

Reimagining campus events

In his role, he works closely with the Student Activities Board, or SAB, which helps plan campus events for the student body. He was able to help facilitate with SAB four events of varying sizes before the remote learning period began this spring.

After, SAB transitioned to more digital programming to engage with students. Dement asked SAB to think about the core value of its activities and reimagine what they could like given the changes due to coronavirus.

That has included virtual challenges and fun scavenger hunts online. Students worked through getting together at the right times, as well as adjustments of completing a semester from home, but the Student Involvement staff says engagement has been essential.

“I think all of us in Student Involvement see this as an opportunity to empower our students and student leaders,” Dement said.

Dement recently wrapped the other portion of his role with New Student Orientation, conducting the programming completely online.

New students were able to connect with campus members and student orientation leaders via an online site, the Blue Hose Hub. All of the work from NSO, he says, builds up to Welcome Week.

Campus Recreation

Mitchell Plumer, assistant director of Student Involvement for Recreation, was a competitive sports graduate assistant at West Virginia University before joining PC. He earned his master’s degree in sport management there in May.

Plumer earned his bachelor’s degree in sport management from North Greenville University in 2017. He says he had the idea he wanted to work in sports growing up, but knew he wanted to pursue a career in recreation after working as an intramural sports official during his sophomore year of college.

Plumer’s officiating experience includes being a Division II volleyball official, along with a high school and recreation basketball and volleyball official, baseball umpire, and an official in the NIRSA Region I Regional Basketball Championships in 2019.

Career opportunities are just one benefit of campus recreation, he says. Plumer said there are often academic benefits to getting active, and it also allows students to interact with students they may not normally.

“Campus recreation and intramural sports are a way to bring students from every background together,” he said. “The thing about sports is it brings people together, and that’s one of the great things about intramurals is bringing students from a variety of environments, cultures, etc., together to spend time together as one.”

Before the pandemic, he was preparing for traditional sports until campus rec went online. Growing its Instagram presence involved e-sports, fitness workouts and a bracket challenge.

Though the pandemic has changed what may usually go on in the fall, Plumer is planning physical distancing games and other modified activities.

“Yes, for the pandemic, we may be physical distancing, but through the physical distancing activities we have planned, you can still meet those new people,” he said.

In the fall, Dement is planning events with the policies in place.

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