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Ferris student-athletes mentor peers to make Good Choices through alcohol education program

BIG RAPIDS Learning how to make good choices is part of the educational process for students once they leave the nest and head off to college. Ferris State University hopes to promote smarter choices among its undergrads with help from the NCAA's Choices Alcohol-Education Grant program.

Ferris' Good Choices program, funded through a three-year grant, will assist students in choosing responsible behaviors concerning alcohol to ensure their progression through college, said Daniel Burcham, Ferris vice president for Student Affairs.

Added University Counselor Thomas Liszewski, college students believe their peers consume more alcohol than they actually do. This program will tie into the University's current alcohol education campaign, Social Norms. This campaign strives to inform Ferris students that contrary to popular belief, most of their campus peers if they drink at all are moderate and safe drinkers.

The Good Choices program is an approach to help curb campus drinking among the undergraduate student population. This will be accomplished utilizing Ferris student-athletes as mentors for incoming freshmen. The athletes will interact with new students at the University through seminar courses, required for all freshmen and transfer students; in residence halls and other campus venues.

Director of Athletics Thomas Kirinovic said 10 student-athletes will be chosen from an applicant pool during year one, 14 during year two and 18 during the final year of the grant program. Athletes will receive training on how to be an effective presenter and on the purpose and goals of the Social Norms campaign.

The 40-minute presentations will be paired with question and answer sessions and serve as a means of giving Ferris students insight into the behavior of their peers in order to make choices that more positively impact their future, officials said.

Ferris' Good Choices program focuses on harnessing the leadership potential of student-athletes. Numerous studies lend support to the notion that students use the student-athlete population as a comparison to gage what is and is not appropriate campus behavior, said Ferris Assistant Dean/Director of Institutional Research and Testing Kristen Salomonson, who served as the University's primary grant writer for the program.

Implementation of the Good Choices program begins this fall and continues through 2009.

Venas E. Turner Assistant Secretary University Advancement and Marketing Administration and Finance (213) 591-2991 (213) 591-2145