Cru leaders engage in peer mentoring

Welcome Week at the university is an exciting time as freshmen and transfers are welcomed onto the campus by their Cru Leaders, but their job doesn’t stop at the end of the week.

Kristy Brischke, director of Transition Programs, is in charge of the peer mentoring program, the CLs and their jobs.

“They serve as Welcome Week leaders as well as the big part of the peer mentor program. They continue on into the freshman seminar classes with their Welcome Week groups,” she said.

CLs participate in the freshman seminar class with their students for the first eight weeks.

They must keep up with their students, engage them in the campus community, encourage them and provide any resources that students might need.

Welcome Week leaders return to school a week early in the semester and attend the training camp.

“It’s a long five days, but I think they’ve really enjoyed it,” Brischke said.

Junior education major Chad Manns, a Welcome Week steering committee member this year, thinks peer mentoring is profitable for incoming students.

“This program is very beneficial because coming to a new school without family around anymore can be very stressful. This program helps the incoming freshmen know that they have someone that will be there for them and will always be available to help out in any way possible,” he said.

Sixty peer mentors were a part of the program this year. Ten of them were returnees.

“The CLs themselves, I think, have really enjoyed their time in pouring into students,” Brischke said.

Sophomore English major Sarah Tipton and junior elementary education major Kathryn Cielonko were peer mentors for a group of freshmen this year.

“Just getting to meet all the new freshmen and transfer students and helping acclimate them to the campus was the best part of it for me,” Tipton said.

The training week consisted of sessions on understanding college students, role playing, team building and conversation starters.

The leaders put much time into developing relationships with their students.

“It seems really easy how to start a conversation, but it’s also one of those things that you kind of have to have practice on how to take it to the next level,” Brischke said.

Manns said, “The peer mentors have put in a lot of time to spend with the freshmen and to really get to know about them personally as well as spiritually. It gives mentors the chance to be a great model spiritually for the freshmen to see and know that they are loved by someone.” .

Something new for next year is a group of six former Cru leaders, called CL captains, who will work with Brischke to recruit, select, train and support the CLs. Applications can be picked up at Student Organizations Office located in Mabee Room 240.

Tipton knows peer mentoring isn’t limited to just Welcome Week.

She said, “The relationships that a peer mentor builds should continue to develop over time.”

Author: Elissa Thompson

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