UT launches new peer mentoring programWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
UT is launching a new Rocket-2-Rocket Peer Mentoring Program designed to help first-year students adjust better to college and campus life.
A pilot program for 200 students will be conducted in 2009, with full implementation planned for fall 2010.
“We’re starting with a smaller pilot group before offering the program to everyone in 2010,” said Tracci Johnson of the Student Conduct Office at UT.
The 200 students were recruited from the Blue and Gold Scholars entering UT this fall. Other first-year students, including international students, will have an opportunity to sign up for peer mentoring during the Rocket Launch orientation program.
Johnson said UT recruited 75 students from leadership development programs to serve as mentors to those first-year students. Each mentor will complete training for the program before classes begin on Aug. 24 and will be responsible for mentoring one to three students.
“We recruited proven student leaders who are positively engaged on campus to serve as mentors,” said Jeff Witt of the Office of Student Involvement at UT.
Johnson and Witt are members of the administrative team from the Division of Student Affairs and UT Learning Collaborative who partnered to plan and execute the pilot program.
Each student mentor will report to one of 75 faculty or staff mentors recruited for the pilot program.
Two student mentors, Ashley Watson, a senior, and Colea Owens, a junior, both from Cleveland, said they are looking forward to serving as mentors and helping first-year students.
A mentorship kickoff party will be hosted for first-year students, mentors and faculty-staff mentors at the recreation center on Aug. 23, when the students will meet their mentors.
“We wanted them to meet in an informal social setting to get to know each other easily,” Witt said.
One of the other objectives of the mentoring program is the retention of first-year students.
“We want to have a transformative effect on the retention of first-year students with the persistence of continuing students who serve as peer mentors,” Johnson said.
A Peer Mentoring Center will be located in room 1512 of the Student Union as a place for mentors and students to meet and share their experiences.
The peer mentors will be expected to personally check with their students at least once a week in conversation and once a month in person. The mentors will be taking students to at least three on-campus activities or events each semester.
The mentors will be required to complete a session to learn about the dozens of offices and support programs on campus.
The mentors will actively contribute to student centeredness by gaining in-depth information about UT culture, resources and traditions. Johnson said mentors can qualify for a one- to three-hour credit course and receive peermentor certification by completing the pilot program.
Students participating in the mentoring program must maintain a 2.0 or better GPA to continue in it. The same GPA is used for students employed on campus, Witt said.
“We hope to recruit mentors for next year’s program from the first-year students participating in the pilot program this fall,” he said.
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