Moving to a new school can be overwhelming, especially if it is your first college experience. For students in recovery, this stressful transition involves more dimensions than just “moving away from home”. Many of us had only been living outside of a structured institution for a short time. We had daunting financial difficulties that made us break a sweat when we saw the loans we would be taking out. Perhaps most importantly, most of us have only known school by its frequent associate: failure. When I moved into StepUP, I had been living in a sober house for almost a year and a half. I had gotten used to working, budgeting and cooking my own meals, but was still dealing with emotional and material obstacles that existed as a consequence of my using. I had barely graduated high school, my first attempt at college had yielded me three credits over an entire year, and I had delinquent loans from that kept me from taking out new loans for Augsburg.
Having a mentor when I moved in was immensely calming. In my case, I already knew my mentor, he was one of my best friends. He had already successfully overcome many of the obstacles and fears I had regarding my new college career. I needed to know what the heck a “flex point” was, how many hours I could manage to work during the semester, and how to nurture a social life in StepUP and the greater Augsburg campus. Along with things they would never cover in orientation, like which professors I ought to seek out. Now, with my first year in StepUP behind me, I joined the team of volunteers to mentor new incoming students for 2017. What better way for us to get to know each other, than to be locked in a room together?
StepUP welcomed 13 new students on Friday with an escape room outing at Mission Manor in Northeast Minneapolis. The new students, along with us student mentors, were locked in haunted asylums, dusty mansions and ticking time bomb scenarios, with only our wits to get us out. We had escape room rookies and experts alike. Everyone escaped successfully within the one-hour time frame. We have a bright group of problem solvers this year in StepUP. I was in the group challenged to defuse a bomb that some ne’er-do-well planned on using to destroy the Twin Cities. This room, titled “Countdown”, is the most challenging room of the three. It took some serious teamwork and head-scratching to figure this one out. I can’t spoil what any of the puzzles were, so you will have to come with next time if you are curious. We escaped and saved the city with only three minutes to spare, finishing shortly after the Asylum team.
One of our new students, Quinn, had this to say about the event: “It was definitely a cool experience. Everyone was very welcoming to the new students. It was nice to have a team building exercise with old and new students. Having to work together was a great icebreaker.” Sounds like a great attitude to have starting your StepUP experience, Quinn. Scott A. said “It was a ball!” With such rave reviews, hopefully we can make this a staple StepUP activity. After all three groups completed their respective rooms Patrice showed up with some well-deserved pizza, and the wonderful staff at Mission Manor took some celebratory photographs. Big thanks to them for helping us organize this kick off to a fun summer. Congratulations to all of the new students, and thank you to everyone that volunteered to be mentors.