By Bridget Walsh
This article was originally published in Issue 13, Fiftieth Year of The Minstrel (April 14, 2016). Click here to view the entire issue.
To contrast the campus-wide celebration of DeSales University’s 50th anniversary, it only seems fitting that a relatively younger program is honoring its first graduating class. The DeSales Experience had its first graduation ceremony on Thursday, April 7, honoring 35 seniors who entered the new program four years ago.
Chad Serfass, the director and faculty advisor of the DeSales Experience, could only express positive emotions toward the commencement.
“We are pretty excited that something that took 18 months [to create] five years ago finally is coming to full term, and we get to see those students graduate,” said Serfass.
Upon entering DeSales, students are encouraged to go through Character U, a program which ties together freshman orientation with participation in a variety of activities, such as sporting events, lectures offered by the university and student sponsored events. Graduating Character U is the first major step in proceeding to join the DeSales Experience.
“Character U, which gets you ready for the next four years at DeSales, [is] the first big hurdle in my opinion,” said Serfass. “So you’re an 18-year-old, you’re coming in from high school and completing Character U. Once you complete Character U, then you can apply for the program.”
Along with Character U, the DeSales Experience ties together L.E.A.DSU, Senior Success, several service opportunities around campus and a small academic component.
“About four years ago, we realized that we had all these programs, and we realized for the students to get the most out of the full university experience, as we call it, is to put all these under one umbrella. So we came up with the DeSales Experience,” said Serfass. “It really ties student affairs to academics as well, so the students can come in and get this full university experience instead of trying to piece it all together themselves.
For a young program, the response has been excellent, according to Serfass. As the application process for next year is beginning, the estimated number of students in the program is looking extremely positive.
“We have 35 that are going to graduate this year and coming up the pipeline we have a little over 65 students in it right now,” Serfass reported. “With the class of 2019, it seems a lot of students that are interested have been getting their paperwork in, so with that I am looking to hopefully and collectively have over 100 going through the program, and as the years go on, obviously grow that.”
As one class prepares to graduate, others are preparing to begin their exciting journey as members of the DeSales Experience.
“If you’re interested, applications are due by the end of April. Obviously if you go home over summer, you think about it and want to do it, turn in an application,” said Serfass.
If you are unsure if the DeSales Experience is something you should become involved with, contact Chad Serfass or even talk to any of the seniors graduating from the program to hear why this opportunity will bene t you as you continue through your journey at DeSales University.