Welcome week peer mentors to get credit
Welcome Week is the time set aside each year on campuses for incoming freshmen to learn a little bit about the university they will be attending from those who have been students for awhile. At UMHB, upperclassmen and faculty will be trying something new this upcoming fall in an attempt to retain more students after their first year.
The new initiative is called the peer mentoring program, and, since studies have shown success of the project on other campuses, the university decided to give it a try.
“Instead of the leaders of the family groups only being a part of the actual week of Welcome Week, they will continue to be a part of their family, assisting (in) their freshman seminar course for six weeks,” said one of the student leaders of the group, junior nursing major Andrew Kester. “The peer mentoring program is something that a lot of other universities have that helps make new students feel more welcome and a part of student life.”
The program is being spearheaded by director of student organizations Kristy Brischke. Since she started working for the campus almost five years ago, peer mentoring is something she has always wanted to initiate.
“Research indicates that peer mentor programs are very successful in helping new students persist at a university. I hope that we will find the same here,” Brischke said. “The peer mentors (we are calling them Cru Leaders or CL’s for short) will first be with their students during Welcome Week, which will then become their Freshman Seminar.”
After the seminar begins, students will assist the faculty members in leading activities and discussions once a week, while attending a Peer Mentor Leadership course with Brischke.
“Peer mentors who participate in the course will learn how to develop their leadership skills,” Kester said. “Also, all who participate as peer mentors will receive two hours of elective credit.”
One of the main ways students are finding out about the program is from a Facebook group created to advertise the upcoming peer mentoring event.
Already, more than 90 people have said they would be interested in attending the initial planning meetings, which will take place each week and began yesterday.
Brischke said she is pleased with the amount of student response they have received.
“We will be selecting about 60 students to serve as Cru Leaders – so I hope this will provide a strong pool of applicants,” she said. “Not only will this impact the new students, but the CL’s will benefit greatly from this program. They will learn about leadership, serving and relationship building.”
The Welcome Week steering committee is pulling out all the stops to make next year a success.
Freshman Seminar is going to be very involved next fall, and the peer mentoring group is dedicated to making sure this new program succeeds.
“We are really excited about Welcome Week 2011, but we need everyone to come and be a part,” Kester said.
“We can plan every detail that would make Welcome Week awesome, but it is the staff that makes everything possible.”