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Freshman Focus Program

Why Does the Freshman focus Program Exist?

Education is about gaining knowledge to assist in making good decisions as students are faced with many challenges and choices associated with college. The Freshman Focus Program Series is intended to inform, educate, and stimulate students in ways that are both educational and entertaining. Moreover, it is a platform for an exchange of ideas which can be collectively shared. It is part of the spirit and sense of open inquiry that any college should be cultivating.

Each program represents a different genre and embodies personal growth. Programs range from those that revolve around themes of personal responsibility and self-awareness to a Student Activities Expo that connects students to community participation.

What is the Presentation Series?

The purpose of the Freshman Focus Program Presentation Series is to expose participants to a wide range of ideas and life philosophies. From celebrating diversity to managing your finances, presentations focus on bettering the student transition here on campus. Western New England University does neither endorse nor advocate any of the speakers platforms but rather intends them to promote scholarly discourse and personal reflection.

Past Presentation Topics


    Kathy Reid, Director of Western New England University’s Health Services, presents a look at the realities of college health issues associated with the first year. Media influence on sexual attitudes, virulence of sexually transmitted diseases, and decisions about intimacy are explored. The presentation is candid, lively, and specific to first year students at Western New England University.

  • "A Shot of Reality"

    Combines improv comedy, audience participation, and education on alcohol awareness. Hilarious improvisations keep the audience engaged and entertained while educational sketches drive home alcohol facts and statistics.

  • "The Hook-Up"

    The Hook-Up engages audiences in a facilitated discussion about hooking-up, sexual assault, and bystander intervention. The Hook-Up begins with a discussion on how gender stereotypes contribute to rape culture and harm survivors. Next, the program unpacks the practice of hooking-up, and identifies the differences between a healthy hook-up, a regretted hook-up, and a sexual assault. The program explores the research of Dr. David Lasik and examines how perpetrators’ modus operandi is often masked by the norms of contemporary hook-up culture. This discussion is critical because it provides the opportunity to break through the myth that rape is really just a regretted sexual experience. When we can discuss what healthy, consensual sex looks like in contrast to the methods perpetrators use, there is no confusion between healthy sex and rape. Finally, the program closes using the information we have learned about perpetrators’ motives and behaviors in order to devise successful bystander intervention strategies, and decrease out community’s tolerance for sexual predation.


    Singer, songwriter, and jazz pianist Angela Parrish got her proverbial big break recently when she landed a small gig in the blockbuster cinematic musical, La La Land. In fact, the small-town Kansas native's clean articulation and angelic voice is the first to be heard in the opening score accompanying the sea of seemingly endless cars backed up on one of L.A.'s infamous freeways. Her movie credit as a vocalist has since garnered recognition and accolades from Newsweek and Billboard magazines, to newspapers and radio, and across social media. Coincidentally, Angela's own career path traces that of the film's leading characters–actress Mia, played by Emma Stone; and jazz musician Sebastian, played by Ryan Gosling–as they struggle to find their way in the dog-eat-dog world that is the Hollywood entertainment industry. Angela's story is a life lesson for students about thinking big, working hard, taking risks, making sacrifices, experiencing dissapointment, being resourceful, facing rejection, staying motivated, and the dogged pursuit of one's passion in life. At its core, however, Angela's story is mostly about believing in oneself. Come hear this musician and singer tell her inspiring story against the backdrop of director Damien Chazelle's captivating film, La La Land!


    Laugh. Win. Learn! Patrick McGarrity delivers an entertaining program that educates students on the importance of money management. Through light-hearted scenarios, humorous anecdotes, and reallife stories, students learn to combat financial pitfalls with common sense strategies. Students will learn about fiscal responsibility as Patrick addresses avoiding credit card debt, preventing identity theft, and managing student loans. Select students will get the opportunity to enter the “Big Money Machine” filled with over $500 in cash.

NOTICE OF INTENT: The purpose of the Freshman Focus Program Series is to expose participants to a wide range of ideas and life philosophies. Western New England University does neither endorse or advocate any of the speakers' platforms but rather intends them to promote scholarly discourse and personal reflection.

All of the presentations will take place in Rivers Memorial Hall.