Tech Graduate Office Launching Peer Mentoring Program

SOCORRO, N.M. August 25, 2011 – Undergraduates have a new mentoring resource at New Mexico Tech.

The Graduate Studies Office is launching a Peer Mentoring Program to partner undergrads with grad students to offer advice on creating a successful undergraduate life, both on and off campus.

Christy Neill, director of the Title V Graduate Program, said that while Tech has launched initiatives aimed at keeping freshmen on track and improving their success rate, other undergrads are often left without supplemental resources. This program will target sophomore, junior and senior undergrads to give them a new avenue that will allow them to benefit from the experiences of graduate students.

“Graduate students offer a different perspective than advisors,” Neill said. “We expect graduate students to offer advice on campus life, work and time management, employment, research opportunities, graduate school, and many other topics.  They can also offer tips and advice on success skills. Hopefully, undergrads will be able to learn from their experience.”

Neill said the Peer Mentoring Program is intended to complement the tutoring services offered at the Center for Student Success and the First-Year Experience program. She said ideally the program will help undergraduate students make informed decisions about careers and graduate school and gain the skills that will help them stay in school and be successful.

Neill compared the Peer Mentoring Program to a college-age version of Big Brothers-Big Sisters. Participants can either remain confidential or choose to attend social events with other mentors and mentees to enhance the feeling of community on campus.

Jason Speights, a Ph.D. student in physics, is helping launch the program. He said that when he came to Tech as an undergrad, he was a few years older than most freshmen.

“I wasn’t that much older than the sophomores, but they came to me for advice,” he said. “I imagine this Peer Mentoring Program will be something similar that to that situation.”

Faculty members Julie Ford and Jeff Altig will be helping to build the program throughout this next year.  Ford and Altig will be looking for more graduate students to volunteer for the program. They will screen grad students carefully to ensure the best fit with mentors and mentees.  All grads and undergrads interested are encouraged to apply.

“We want a good mix of students – a diverse group from across academic disciplines and ethnic backgrounds,” Neill said. “We want to fill a gap for our target audience. They’re often left on their own to figure things out. That can be a difficult time to adjust, especially if they don’t have resources.”

Students interested in becoming a mentor or being an undergraduate mentee, should stop by Fitch Hall 205 and talk to Karen Chavez. Interested students can also visit the website at http://infohost.nmt.edu/~mentor/home.html for more information or to submit an application. The deadline for applying is Friday, Sept. 16.


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By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech