Providing academic guidance and insight to first-year students at the College, a new peer-to-peer mentoring program—a product of The Academic Center (TAC) and a grant from the MELMAC Education Foundation in Augusta, Maine—is set to take off in the fall.
The Peer Mentor Program accepts applications from rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors for the position of peer mentor. If accepted, the peer mentors provide students the opportunity to mentor and guide first-year students, primarily, to develop counseling and leadership skills during the 2014–2015 and 2015–2016 academic years. The program is being supported by MELMAC’s grant, in the sum of $23,500.
“We are a community of faculty, staff, and students who work together to make the College experience the best it can be for every student,” says TAC’s Shanna Webster, who serves as an academic support coordinator. “Our upperclassmen have their own unique stories to share, and giving them a forum to work with our incoming first-year students allows them to not only develop their résumé but also enhance their leadership skills.”
The program will recruit 12 peer mentors and one peer mentor coordinator, assigning one to each section of the FYE Seminar, a required one-credit course taken by all first-year students. Each mentor will be responsible for 25 students. One additional student will be recruited to serve as peer mentor coordinator, a position that provides the link between peer mentors and the faculty and staff.
Assistant Dean of the College and TAC Director Vincent Kloskowski says, “We have faith and confidence in our College community that through the personal and educational experiences of our mentors, those in the Peer Mentoring Program can be positively impacted with their own personal success.”
To help ensure that success, peer mentors and the peer mentor coordinator must not only apply for the position but they must also attend a weeklong leadership training session, which has an outdoor component, says Morgan Rocheleau, director of Student Activities. The training session will focus on team building, leadership development, and learning about the campus and its resources in preparation for guiding new students.
Selections for the highly anticipated program were made in late spring, and it’s an opportunity that current students were clearly ready for, says Kloskowski. “The development of this program created more of an excited buzz than we initially expected.”
More information about the program can be found at sjcme.edu/tac/peer-mentor.