Karen Davis’ ’83, G’90 desire to create a welcoming environment for all has permeated every corner of the College of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS). Building the college’s career services from the ground up and becoming the assistant dean of…
Orange Success Mentoring Pilot Expands Student Support
Strengthening a sense of personalized support and friendship, mentors offer countless avenues of guidance and assistance throughout the student experience. In an effort to grow mentorship opportunities, Student Outreach and Retention (SOaR) launched the pilot cohort of the Orange Success Mentoring Program this semester focused on incoming self-identified first-generation students.
Helping to lead the implementation of the Orange Success Mentoring Program and inspire student success through action and connection is Kal Srinivas, Ph.D., director of student retention and success in SOaR. Armed with the knowledge that first-generation students are often confronted with complex and unique challenges, Srinivas and team launched the program focused on this population to build mentorship opportunities that honored and supported each student’s success.
“First-generation students may not have the family support or knowledge to navigate their way through myriad campus resources offered to them. Connecting with other students can help make their path easier and more fulfilling. Our goal is to support each of our first-generation students uniquely throughout their student experience,” says Srinivas.
Little actions, such as registering to participate, can yield large results. With an emphasis placed on pairing returning students as mentors with new students as mentees, the process began in early spring 2022 with each participant first completing a matching survey. Over 200 participating students were matched with a mentor. Pairs were curated through an assessment of their unique answers to questions inquiring about interests, experiences and goals.
Motivated to support peers, Hamere Debebe ’24 participated as one of the program’s first mentors. “During my first year in college, I had to work two jobs, keep up with my extracurriculars and maintain my schoolwork. I had never felt so stressed and burnt out in my entire life. But because of this, I know how to help others before they get to the point I did. Especially in areas of impostor syndrome for first-generation and immigrant students,” Debebe says.
Strengthening a Feeling of Belonging
Communications between mentors and mentees began virtually through the Orange Success Mentoring Platform, an online system hosted by Mentor Collective. Then per each unique mentorship pairing, frequency, style and topics, ebbed and flowed throughout the duration of the semester. Mentees could seek support on topics surrounding navigating academic support, college costs and major exploration.
“The relationship between a mentor and a mentee is about the little things. Getting to know one another, being comfortable asking questions, going out of comfort zones to learn something new. It’s about building self-efficacy, which strengthens feelings of belonging here at Syracuse University,” says Srinivas. “Positive interactions in and out of the classroom in turn positively impact student success. It is also a reciprocal relationship where the mentor learns from the mentee’s experiences too.”
Orange Success Mentoring Program 2022-23
While the pilot program concludes this May, students will have an opportunity to get involved again.
“When you take a moment to pause and reflect on your own first year of college, what did you feel?” asks Cerri A. Banks, Ph.D., vice president and deputy to the senior vice president of the student experience. “As with any transition, there is often excitement, but understandably, also uncertainty at times. You can help incoming students navigate this new experience and strengthen their long-term success through mentorship.”
Rising sophomores, juniors and seniors in good standing are encouraged to apply to serve as a 2022-23 Orange Success Mentor by Tuesday, July 5, 2022. Open to incoming first-year and first-year transfer, self-identified first-generation students, on a first-come, first-serve basis, 2022-23 Orange Success Mentee applications are encouraged by Monday, Aug. 1, 2022.
For more information, visit the Orange Success Mentoring webpage or call 315.443.0221.