Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects


Military Science and Leadership

Additional Departmental Affiliation

Psychological Sciences

Document Type



Western Kentucky University, a medium-sized university in Kentucky, currently has a persistence rate of 74% (Helbig et al., 2020). The current public health crisis also poses a risk to university retention. A new method needs to be used to increase the rate in the next ten years. Dr. Brian Kuster, Vice President of WKU suggested a mentoring program for “at-risk” freshmen. Freshmen go through a lot of stress and anxiety in their first year of college. This is known as the “first-year adjustment” reaction. A myriad of factors contributes to the reaction, such as being by themselves for the first time, learning adult responsibilities, and playing the “game” that is called college. Western Kentucky Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) developed a mentorship program for freshmen Cadets to ease the first-year adjustment reaction, feelings of anxiety and hopelessness. Initial surveys from mentored freshmen show 80% persistence within the ROTC program. Freshmen who persisted reported that mentors provided a positive impact to the college transition and fostered “a sense of camaraderie.”

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Bernie Strenecky, Ph.D.


Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences

Included in

Psychology Commons