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November 2009  |  Return to issue home

Students Weigh in on Peer-to-Peer Mentoring Program

For the past two years, the College of Education’s peer-to-peer mentoring program matches experienced student mentors and incoming student mentees for mentoring relationship. Whenever possible, students are matched based on area of interest and other factors. Mentors and mentees develop many different kinds of relationships. Some remain collegial in nature, while others, like Ashley and Cassady's, become enduring friendships.

Learn more about this program from Ashley Wiggin, new student and mentee, and Cassady Glass Hastings, mentor to five students over the last two years.

Cassady: So, Ashley, why did you decide to be a mentee?

Ashley: I worked at the University for a few years and when I got into the College I needed a resource to guide me through my program and to help me to be a student again, since I hadn’t been a student for a couple years.

Honestly, what I really wanted was to have a friend. It sounds kind of silly but I thought that being a part-time student meant that it would be more difficult to make relationships with my classmates. In retrospect, it hasn’t been that hard, but ultimately I wanted a resource. I wanted someone who I could approach and say, "Help me now, I don’t understand what I’m supposed to do."

School can be hard to navigate. But you’ve met all those mentoring needs exponentially.

Cassady: Oh, stop it. (Laughing.)

Ashley: It’s so true! So tell me, what made you want to be a mentor?

Cassady: I first became a mentor because I’ve had fabulous peer mentors, mostly informal, who were older and wiser. I’ve had great role models. So, I thought, "Why not?" The peer-to-peer mentoring is a formal program and everyone needs those mentors to be there for anything whether it’s a hug, a resource or someone to talk to about conflicts, research or anything. And if I can’t answer a question, I can always send you to the person who can help you.

Ashley: I know I can always go to you for my problems.

Cassady: So what did you think of our first mentor meeting?

Ashley: I loved it. One of my favorite things was meeting you at Chipotle and you giving me a hug right away. It was just great because we just started talking and had an immediate connection. We are both outgoing types of people so it wasn’t difficult to yammer on. It was also great because you gave me lots of good information about the program, like which faculty to take classes from. I wanted the inside scoop and you gave me that.

Cassady: I think that’s another thing I get from my mentors, that boost of confidence. They teach me that it’s going to be fine.

Ashley: Right, if you don’t have someone you can spin off. Someone from outside of your program might not understand how it is. But you understand.

Cassady: Not everything, but enough. Whether it’s a tough paper or a sad day.

Ashley: What about you? What did you think of our first meeting?

Cassady: Oh I loved it, just like you. I’ve learned a lot from being a mentor. All of my mentees, and I’ve had five now, have been so different. Every one is totally different. And I feel like we had an immediate connection, which I’ve felt with all of my mentees, but the relationship is different with different mentees. So with you I figured out what you needed. You are resourceful already; I mean you work at the University.

But tell me, what worked well for you? And what didn’t work well for you with the mentoring program?

Ashley: I feel like everything has worked really well for me. As we’ve said, you’ve helped me when I didn’t know something or needed help finding someone. Or when I just didn’t understand stats! You were there to say, "You’re going to be fine, go to office hours."

Cassady: It probably helped that your mentor was your T.A.

Ashley: Probably. A little! (Laughing.) But the system has worked really well. Something that I imagine might be hard for you, however. How do you manage to spend time with all of your mentees, given so many different schedules and personalities?

Cassady: Well, you all don’t need the same amount of time. Some of my mentees are e-mail mentees. They’ll send me e-mail questions and that’s what they want. And then others want to get together and gossip. Then there are others that check in once a quarter, more professionally. My job is to figure out what kind of mentee you are. Are you an e-mail mentee? A hugging mentee? A meeting mentee?

Ashley: Hugging for me, for sure!

Cassady: Exactly. But it takes all kinds.

Cassady: Do you think you’ll be a peer mentor next year?

Ashley: Absolutely. I’ve had a wonderful experience being a mentee, and I want to give back to the College of Education community and help incoming students answer those questions that I had. It’s a great program to get involved in, and I’m really looking forward to helping incoming students benefit the way that I have!

November 2009  |  Return to issue home

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