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Early Start Program welcomes 31 students

August 10, 2023 - Beth Brauer

James Madison College is gearing up for its second year of the Early Start Program, a bridge program for incoming first-year students enrolled in JMC, Michigan State University’s residential college for international relations and public affairs.

Early Start logo

Students will move into Case Hall on Aug. 18 and participate in a host of activities designed to equip them with the tools and resources they need to be successful in Madison and establish a sense of community and belonging before classes begin on Aug. 28.

Professors Louise Jezierski, associate professor in social relations and policy, and Ben Lorch, associate professor in political theory and constitutional democracy, are co-teaching a course that is designed to “introduce students to college level readings and the Madison discussion-based seminar format.” The one-credit course includes required readings by Frederick Douglass.

“As someone who teaches PTCD courses, I believe that reading and discussing classic texts is an important part of education, and we chose ‘My Bondage and My Freedom’ because it is a beautiful and profound book about slavery, resistance, equality and citizenship,” said Lorch. “Because a major theme of the book is Douglass’s education, I think it will be a good springboard for our students to think about their own educations as they begin college."

Additional course activities will include a tour of Lansing neighborhoods, visiting the Michigan State Capitol and meeting with Senator Sarah Anthony (MI-21st District).

In total, 31 students will participate in the 2023 cohort, up from 21 during the program’s inaugural year. By moving into their residence hall early and participating in tours of campus and the surrounding communities, students will have several days to acclimate before most students move into residence halls Aug. 22-23.

“The students who are part of this year’s Early Start program bring a uniquely special set of talents, commitment to advocacy and leadership skills. They will be an asset to James Madison College, and we are honored to play a small role in supporting their well-being,” said Brian Johnson, assistant dean for diversity equity and inclusion.

Following the Aug. 23 activities, Early Start students will transition to Fall Welcome programming scheduled for all new students. After the college’s Colloquium, featuring guest speaker and JMC alumnus Sean Watkins (CCP '12), founder of Agency of Joy, Early Start students will attend a special Meet and Greet with Watkins.

At the conclusion of the summer program, participants will be paired with a student mentor in the Madison Diversity Initiative (MADI), where they will continue to receive support during their first year at MSU.

The Early Start Program is made possible through the generous gifts of JMC alumnus Troy Calkins (IR ’88).

“The only requirement [to be part of the program] is that students want to begin early to learn more about JMC and MSU prior to the start of the academic year,” Johnson said. “I work closely with JMC advisers and, as they are advising students, they recommend students whom they feel would benefit from the program.”

All applicants submit an application, write a personal statement and participate in an interview by a committee of JMC faculty and staff members and JMC students.

For more information about Early Start 2023, view the Early Start webpage. For additional questions, please email Assistant Dean Brian Johnson.