The “Poweruser” Experience

Jacob Manthey,
Class of 2013

Professor Richard Grant,
Professor of Physics & Director of Experiential Learning

Business major and senior Jacob Manthey, who interns in human resources at Carilion Clinic, says his internship has immersed him in the goals of his education now. “Being prepared for leadership and ‘priorities meetings,’ and having to contribute my ideas has totally ramped up my confidence. I’ve been given whole programs to run. I’m not just ‘the intern.’ I’m part of the company in a real way.”

Roanoke aims to make experiential learning like Jacob’s a distinguishing advantage in a Roanoke education.

“Some students are already able to connect the dots between academics and many experiential learning opportunities,” says Professor of Physics Richard Grant. Richard is spearheading Roanoke’s new approach to experiential learning, which integrates a student’s academic courses, research, global study, internships and more. “We call these students ‘powerusers.’ They come in as freshmen planning to study abroad. They dive right into research through undergraduate research grants. We want all our students to have the opportunity to be powerusers. We want them to come in expecting to participate and finding the opportunities and guidance they need to do so.”

Realizing this vision requires an infusion of new resources for faculty to make real-world learning pivotal in all departments. It means offering internship and research stipends so students can deepen their education rather than having to take unrelated summer jobs. It means support for faculty to create the programs and support for students to be able to take advantage of them.

“The whole faculty is focused on pushing beyond traditional modes of learning,” says Richard. “Many colleges are trying to do what we are doing—but we’re ahead of the game. When I talk to prospective students and parents about what makes Roanoke different, these opportunities within a liberal arts education are incredibly compelling to them,” he says. “With the right resources, we can take our academic program to a new level that totally sets Roanoke apart.”

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