IMPACT that lasts a lifetime

Leadership events set the stage for student success

| Author: Eric Baerren | Media Contact: Aaron Mills

Tupac Holmes came to Central Michigan University from Chicago in 2021. He not only faced the culture shock of moving to small-town America but also the isolation of a pandemic.

A pair of programs he attended before the semester started helped him overcome that transition and set him up for a lifetime of success. One introduced him to mentors who showed him the ins and outs of campus life, the other stretched him beyond his comfort zone.

Holmes attended IMPACT and Leadership Safari, CMU’s pre-semester programs designed to foster student success. They take place the week before classes begin.

IMPACT focuses on connecting multicultural first-year and transfer students with mentors, while Leadership Safari introduces students to CMU’s approach to leadership.

IMPACT, which Holmes said involves approximately 300 students, was his first experience. This year, it ran from Sunday to Tuesday and matched small groups of students with mentors. These mentors play a vital role in familiarizing new students with the university and continue supporting them throughout the academic year.

Tupac Holmes talks to Tatiana Mason during IMPACT.
Tupac Holmes (left) talks to Tatiana Mason during IMPACT, one of two leadership programs that take place on Central Michigan University's campus the week before classes start.


Holmes said his mentor, who remains a friend, helped him broaden his perspective about student success. While Holmes came to CMU to study information systems with an eye on a career in cybersecurity, his mentor connected him with faculty members around campus who provided guidance on his other interests.

After graduation, Holmes said that he plans to develop additional streams of income to supplement his salary, with real estate being one of his interests. Holmes said he’s had conversations with faculty experts in real estate who’ve helped him understand how to earn passively while working.

The program provided enough value to Holmes that he returned in 2022 to mentor his own group of students. A valuable part of the experience is learning the needs of individual students, he said. Some students want a little more involvement on campus, while some just need an occasional check-in call.

This year, Holmes was elevated to the position of core staff for IMPACT.

While IMPACT helped him transition and feel secure in a new environment, Leadership Safari helped him grow beyond his comfort zone, he said.

Leadership Safari is one of CMU’s signature leadership events and is billed as “one of our greatest traditions.” While IMPACT to Holmes was about mentorship, he said Leadership Safari was about growth and community.

IMPACT participants join hundreds of students from the broader campus community, with more than 1,000 students participating in total this year. It runs from Tuesday through Thursday.

In addition to speakers, there are activities and games. The goal is to encourage students to step outside their comfort zones and find their voices as leaders, Holmes said. They also make friends with people they might not have otherwise met.

Some of those friends provide mentorship, some provide an opportunity to further network.

“Everyone’s a resource,” Holmes said.

Both provided Holmes an opportunity to learn how to make an impact on campus, he said. The next step, after graduation, is taking what he learned about making a difference in the world to create a meaningful impact beyond CMU.

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