IGNITE is a first-year experience program designed to help new students “find their spark” and ignite their passion for UNC Asheville. The purpose of the program is to help new students build connections with one another, develop students’ leadership efficacy and capacity, and deepen their sense of belonging at UNC Asheville. IGNITE is led by upperclassmen Peer Advising Leaders (PALs) who serve as peer mentors throughout the program.
The Fall semester of IGNITE supports the transition of first year students by helping them develop personal skills and confidence to be successful at UNC Asheville. PALs initially meet their cohort of students at the end of EmBark, UNC Asheville’s first year student orientation. First year students are grouped by IGNITE/First Year Seminar cohorts throughout EmBark, allowing for relationship-building and connection from the first day they set foot on campus. At the final orientation session, EmBark Orientation Mentors introduce the cohorts to their PAL The PALs then facilitate the first session of IGNITE entitled “Finding Your Spark,” which invites students to start identifying a passion area and set intentions for their time at UNC Asheville.
Once students have identified their “spark” during the Fall semester, they will transition to exploring experiential learning pathways in the Spring semester. The purpose of the experiential learning pathways is for students to deepen their connections with others on and off campus and to reflect upon how they will become a change agent at UNC Asheville and beyond. First year students will be invited and encouraged to enroll in a 1-credit hour course that will focus on experiential learning and critical reflection, moving IGNITE from self discovery in the fall semester to self in community in the spring.