SPARK program prepares incoming students for adjustment to campus life 

Imagine you’re set to start your freshman year of college, and like for many students, this transition marks the first time you’ve ever lived away from your family. The to-do list feels unending. The questions mount quickly: How do I get assigned a residence hall? What do I need to bring? How will I make new friends?  

The SPARK program is designed to ease that stress for our incoming students. It offers students and their families the opportunity to prepare for their adjustment to campus life and helps them understand what it means to be a member of the Marquette community. 

Marianne Di Ulio, director of new student and family programs, says SPARK is there to help students feel connected to the campus community before their first semester begins.  

“What’s great about SPARK, whether in-person or virtual, is it really shows new students and their families everyone coming together as a campus, and it helps create a sense of belonging,” Di Ulio says. “The program provides numerous ways to get questions answered by connecting new students and their families to the right people and the right resources. Connections are key!”   

SPARK is separated into four sessions throughout June, each featuring a variety of programs, including a welcome to Marquette, information sessions, a dining showcase and a choose your own adventure to end the day.  

At the start of each session, there’s a program and services fair where over 40 different offices and areas on campus are represented.  

“Students and families can stop by each table and learn more about what services and opportunities will be provided in the fall,” Di Ulio says. “In addition to our Marquette resources, this year we’ve also asked Visit Milwaukee to be present, so even those who are local will have an opportunity to learn more about what is going on in Milwaukee this year.” 

Incoming students will have a chance to connect with SPARK leaders who serve as resources at the start of their transition to college.  

“At the welcome session for the Class of 2028, university leaders will be present to greet students and their families,” says Victoria Tatum, student director for event logistics for new student and family programs. “They will provide an overview of SPARK’s goals, share insights on the Jesuit mission that impacts all aspects of university life and discuss how the mission to Be The Difference is integrated into both academic and extracurricular activities. These sessions will help students understand the values and objectives that guide the Marquette community.” 

Students wrap up SPARK primed to return to campus in late August for New Student Orientation with a lay of the land and budding friendships. 

“Our hope is that by taking part in SPARK, new students get a good sense of what their experience will resemble when they arrive in the fall and can alleviate any fears about their transition,” Di Ulio says. 

This year, the SPARK program will take place June 14, 17, 19 and 21. For students and guests who can’t make it to the in-person SPARK session, there will be a virtual SPARK program through the D2L platform which goes live July 8. Find a detailed schedule on the SPARK website.