Peer mentorship program to continue this semester

Peer mentors Natalie Abellanosa (left) and Julia Ostrovsky participate in a scavenger hunt at a peer mentorship event in September. | CHYNNA CUMMINGS /FILE PHOTO
Peer mentors Natalie Abellanosa (left) and Julia Ostrovsky participate in a scavenger hunt at a peer mentorship event in September. | CHYNNA CUMMINGS /FILE PHOTO

Applications for Temple Student Government’s Peer-Mentorship Program, which began last semester, reopened on Monday.

The semester-long program was created to connect freshmen, transfer students, commuter students and students from marginalized identities with on-campus resources through a relationship with student leaders.

Last semester’s program had 37 pairs of student mentors and mentees, said Kayla Martin, TSG’s vice president of services. TSG is planning for a smaller turnout for the spring semester because there are fewer incoming students, she added.

This semester, TSG plans to expand outreach to nontraditional students — this includes students who are older than their peers, attend school part time or act as caretakers for family members.

“The best way to [expand outreach] is through different university departments so they could send it out through their listservs,” Martin said. “Normally, we use social media which can be challenging if nontraditional students aren’t following us on there.”

Because the program is new, Martin hopes to improve it through feedback from last semester’s participants, rather than focus on expansion.

“The only thing we want to improve on more is making it more social and not only academic and professional,” she said. “The mentors and mentees did it on their own but they did give feedback saying they wish there were more social events. But we were really happy with the engagement and feedback we got.”

After being paired, mentors and mentees were responsible for meeting regularly. The frequency of and reason for their meetings depended on what they wanted to get out of the program and were not enforced by TSG, Martin said.

Freshman biology major Tahjanae Nichols participated in the program in the fall because she wanted to learn how to mentor other students.

“I always like talking to older people because they know what they’re doing,” she said. “And I eventually want to become a mentor, so it’s good to have that experience to know what traits I need.”

Almas Ayaz, Temple Student Government’s director of campus life and diversity, holds a list of goals for mentors to set with their mentees over the course of the program at a peer mentorship event in September. | CHYNNA CUMMINGS /FILE PHOTO
Almas Ayaz, Temple Student Government’s director of campus life and diversity, holds a list of goals for mentors to set with their mentees over the course of the program at a peer mentorship event in September. | CHYNNA CUMMINGS /FILE PHOTO

She also wanted a “guide” during her transition to Temple, she added.

“It’s kind of hard to come to Temple alone, especially not knowing much about Philadelphia and the area,” she said. “But having someone who’s been here longer, that helped me get more out of my experience.”

Nichols was matched with Toree Weaver, a junior journalism major. Before meeting Nichols, Weaver and other mentors attended training sessions hosted by TSG to prepare them.

“I came in kind of nervous because I wanted to give back, but I was nervous about making sure I was a good leader,” Weaver said. “I felt like all my questions were definitely answered. There was really good training and it wasn’t drawn-out. You felt like you were actually getting prepared for the relationship you were about to build.”

Even though they weren’t in the same major, Nichols felt that her relationship with Weaver benefited her as she adjusted to Temple.

“As far as getting around campus and the social aspects, [Weaver] knows what she’s doing with stuff like that,” she said. “We met every Thursday to set goals for each other, something like ‘This week, I’ll go to my professor’s office hours.’ It kept us both on our toes.”

Though Weaver thought the program worked well for her and her mentee, she wished there were more social events for all the mentors and mentees in the program to interact.

“It’s important so that [mentees] don’t feel like they have just one person to go to,” she said. “I think it would have been nice to come together, bond, so they can meet other mentees who are maybe in the same place and make more connections with different mentors.”

Amanda Lien
can be reached at amanda.lien@temple.edu Or you can follow Amanda on Twitter @AmandaJLien Follow The Temple News @TheTempleNews

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