As the director of first-year experience, Edwin Mayes’ job doesn’t stop after freshman orientation. In collaboration with the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Vice President for Student Affairs Lou Stark, Mayes is helping to expand a mentoring program for underrepresented minorities in the freshman class.
The program, which began last fall, was originally only offered for Hispanic students. Fifteen first-year students were paired with mentors based on their academic major and hometown. Based on the success of this fall’s program, Mayes will be enlarging the experience for the fall of 2014, offering the program to all underrepresented minorities and quadrupling the size to include 60 first-year students and 60 mentors.
Mentors are sophomores, juniors and seniors who are chosen based on their GPA, interests and extracurriculars. They are paid a stipend of $100 a month for their work, which includes meeting with their mentee on a weekly basis, as well as attending campus events and volunteer opportunities together.
“The mentor is an advocate, a lead for the mentee, kind of a big brother or big sister on campus to help show them the ropes and give them advice,” said Mayes.
Ultimately, the purpose of the program is to help the first-year students better understand the resources available to them on campus, including the Office of Multicultural Affairs, University Counseling Services and the Office of Student Activities and Leadership.
Using survey data, Mayes found that students in the program felt more comfortable and connected to the university after the completion of the program, which lasted until the end of their fall semester.
Due to the success of the program, Mayes and four of the mentees will be presenting at College Board’s upcoming Prepárate conference, which is dedicated to improving education for Latino students.