Student Voice


September 29, 2023



‘Just pick one’: the Falcon 5 program

October 3, 2014

According to the Falcon 5 website, the program encourages students to get involved in activities at UW-River Falls and acts as a guide to campus involvement to better students’ education experience.

The interactive website, which can be found at www., helps students find opportunities for involvement and tracks their progress through the program by having them swipe their campus identification card at certain events or log their involvement manually online.

The first step in the Falcon 5 program is to “just PICK ONE”, which is the slogan for the program.

Students are asked to go to and pick a category that interests them. The categories are Academics & Education, Career and Employment, Fraternities & Sororities, Sports and Recreation, Leadership & Advocacy, Identity & Multicultural, Health & Wellbeing, Hobby & Social, and Service & Social Action.

After picking one of the categories, students work through the program in three levels: “Explore,” “Thrive,” and “Impact.” Each level has a short list of actions for students to complete before moving on to the next level.

The first level asks students to pick three “level-1” experiences (which are marked on the website as such) from each Falcon 5 category and attend the activities or events of their choosing. The categories are Career, Education, Social, Community and Wellness.

After picking three of the level-1 experiences, students are asked to submit their resume to “Hire-a-Falcon,” which opens up job opportunities in the area for UWRF students.

Once that step is completed, the next step is to interview a student leader, then attend a Falcon 5 cohort meeting and, lastly, complete the level-1 Reflection Form. Once the level-1 list is completed, students move on to the second level—Thrive. The first item on the list is to pick one “level-2” experience from three different Falcon 5 categories. Students are also asked to attend a diversity event, interview a campus staff or faculty leader, attend a Falcon 5 cohort meeting, and complete the Level 2 Reflection Form.

Finally, students are asked to complete level three. This level asks students to pick one “level-3” experience from any Falcon 5 category, complete a mock interview (hosted by Career Services), record a testimonial about the student’s Falcon 5 experience, attend a Falcon 5 cohort meeting, and complete the reflection form for the third level.

As students complete each level they are awarded with prizes. By completing the first level, students receive a Falcon 5 Jansport backpack. If students complete the second level they receive a Falcon 5 sweatshirt blanket, and upon the completion of all three levels, the Chancellor awards the student with a Falcon 5 Leadership Certificate, according to the Falcon 5 website.

Paul Shepherd, director of Student Life, said in an email interview that the program started as an idea to raise awareness about involvement opportunities.

“We saw some survey data that indicated students weren’t as involved as they expected to be at UWRF,” Shepherd said. “We also noticed a lack of involvement in some of our events.”

Shepherd said that everyone who plans student involvement opportunities on campus then got together and started talking about getting on the same page under one central program, which is how the Falcon 5 was born. The program is meant to take anywhere from two to four years to complete, depending on each student, according to Shepherd.

Riley Haynes, the Student Affairs Committee chair and a senior at UWRF, said in an email interview that he has completed almost all of the requirements to get to level three.

“I think the Falcon 5 program is a great way for students to build experiences outside the classroom that will not only give them a competitive advantage in the job market, but provide lifelong friends, memories, and lessons,” Haynes said. Student Life runs the Falcon 5 program, and Haynes said he expects Student Affairs to be in contact with Student Life soon so that they can collaborate and contribute to the program’s development in any way possible.

Lynn Bartholomew, a student at UWRF, said that the program is meant to get students involved in campus activities, because participating in things other than just classes helps students to do better academically and will increase the likelihood of students completing their degree at UWRF.

“It improves their chances,” Bartholomew said. “I believe they go up around 30-50 percent that they will stay at the university and not transfer somewhere else.”

Joseph Schmit, chief of staff for Student Senate, said the Falcon 5 program is catching on by word-ofmouth or by students speaking about it during Weeks of Welcome, and while some students have begun to take advantage of the program, the goal is for the majority of students to use it.

“From what I’ve seen and heard, there have been a decent amount of people recording (their involvement) and there is the factor that it is pretty new, so some people might not know about it as much,” Schmit said.

For more information about the Falcon 5 program, visit, or talk to Student Life, located in 170 University Center.