As Pacesetter “dream team” prepares new students for college life, team leaders learn skills for post-collegiate success

Each year, a group of students is appointed to serve as peer mentors for incoming freshman and transfer students. Known as Pacesetters, these mentors are led by three team leaders as they guide students through the orientation process.

Junior Makayla Adams and seniors Carsen Crumpton and Carson Umbarger are current team leaders. To be chosen for this role, they served as Pacesetters for at least one year before undergoing a rigorous interview process. Once selected, they were tasked with identifying and training their group of 23 Pacesetters, which they have affectionately dubbed "The Dream Team."

"We had guidance from staff, but they gave us creative freedom to run with it," Umbarger explains. "This is our team, and our program to make it what we wanted."

Adams, Crumpton, and Umbarger plan trainings and activities and lead the Pacesetters in their efforts to prepare incoming students for college life at USC Aiken. Each new student is assigned a Pacesetter based on major. They also work with family members to address any questions they have during the orientation process.

"The Pacesetters are a shoulder for students to lean on as they navigate this new experience. We're trying to prepare them for their first time on campus and the first day of classes," Umbarger says. "As team leads, we prepare the Pacesetters for this role and really serve as pacesetters for the Pacesetters. "

"Pacesetters are the first students that incoming students will meet, so it's important that we make a good first impression," Crumpton adds.

While Adams, Crumpton, and Umbarger had varying reasons for applying, they all agree the team lead experience has been a rewarding one. Their positions have allowed them to grow as leaders, develop professional skills and learn how to respond in difficult situations.

Adams, an elementary education major from North Augusta, held similar roles in high school and has a natural inclination to help others. She says, "I wanted to be a Pacesetter the day I had my own freshman orientation. I wanted to provide the same support any way that I could. I love helping people and making them feel welcome. I wanted to be that one person they can count on."

Crumpton serves as president of his fraternity and believed this role would improve his overall leadership skills. An accounting major from Lexington, he now wants to share his experience with others. "The impact this program has had on me was eye-opening. I learned to believe in myself, and I want to have that impact on other people. I'm better equipped to be fraternity president, and we've developed so many soft skills that we can use in the professional world," he says.

Umbarger, a history major from Gilbert, wanted to become a Pacesetter to get more involved on campus. He loved the experience so much that he couldn't pass up the opportunity to apply for the team lead. "There's something special about being around students when they have that 'ah ha' moment and being able to provide the bridge for that and a shoulder to lean on," he says.

Adams, Crumpton, and Umbarger are completing their team lead experience with pride in themselves and their accomplishments, but even more so in their team. Their 23 Pacesetters have served more than 250 students over the course of eight orientation programs.

Adams, who will continue in this role for her senior year, says, "It's a different kind of pride being a team lead. Our team did a phenomenal job. We really are the Dream Team."