Looking out from the top floor of Columbine Hall, natural light and a relaxed atmosphere fill the Excel Communication Center. Staff and tutors wait at the ready to support students working on presentations, group projects or personal speaking goals — or simply offer a free cup of coffee to get them through the day.
To motivate students’ growth and celebrate spring, the Excel Communication Center will sponsor a planting activity on Wednesday, April 13 from 10 a.m. to noon. The center will provide free materials including small terracotta pots, soil and seeds for students to grow their own “COMM-panion” plants.
Amber Adamson, an administrative manager at the center, said, “Our idea is you have something that grows alongside you, you know, as you’re growing in your education and if you’re utilizing the center and your communication skills. It’s a bit of celebrating spring but also celebrating our own growth.”
Besides the thematic appeal, Adamson believes the activity will allow students to relieve some stress.
“We’re getting close to finals, so like sometimes I find that working with your hands instead of your brain … being able to touch soil and nature just really helps you connect with yourself again. It might just be fun, distancing yourself from all the crazy, and also it’s really fun to just have something that starts growing with you,” she said.
Students can also use the event as an opportunity to take advantage of the Excel Communication Center’s resources.
“We’ll probably give you a quick little tour, grab some coffee and snacks, and then do your own little plant and then you’re free to head out, or stay and hang out with us,” Adamson said.
The center offers appointments for mock interviews, brainstorming, presentation practices and reviews, interpersonal communication and group practices.
“We also do group facilitation, so if groups are really struggling to get along or get somewhere with their topic, they can come in here and we’ll help them get back on the right track,” Adamson said.
According to Adamson, the center is the only one in Colorado certified by the National Association of Communication Centers, and its tutors are certified as well.
Individual practice rooms are another highlight. “That way you have that experience of having that one-on-one with the tutor and being able to recognize the anxiety that public speaking can give, having that safe space to make mistakes and do whatever you want,” she said.
The center includes multiple spaces for quiet and group study and provides computers and a smart board for student use.
Adamson worked as a tutor in the center for more than two years before she graduated in 2021 and took on an administrative role. “I’m really passionate about the people and the community here. I feel like it’s such a safe space here because we really prioritize helping students get over their fears of public speaking and feeling competent in group projects and in their mock interviews,” she said.
“We find that research shows, through a lot of our surveys that we’ve taken, if you come into the center and utilize our services, we find that an individual’s grade can go up by one grade letter. So, it’s a really valuable resource with having certified peer tutors to help out with that,” Adamson said.
The Excel Communication Center is in Columbine room 312. Students can walk in or RSVP to the “COMM-panion” planting event through Mountain Lion Connect. The center is open Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The center will also hold a social media giveaway for a Raising Cane’s goodie bag during dead week, May 2-7, on Instagram @uccscommcenter.