In the life of college students, the path to success can sometimes be hard to navigate.
No organization on campus understands this better than Southern Oregon University’s First Year Mentor Program, a resource designed to help students succeed academically and gain an enriched and diverse campus experience through peer-to-peer mentorship.
According to Jesse Rapport, FYMP coordinator and AmeriCorps member, the 4-year-old program has seen more involvement and enthusiasm from students than ever before. Funded by an AmericCorps grant, the program officially has 68 mentors and 80 mentees and is considering many more applications for both.
“This fall term we had about 120 participants, but this term we are looking at 160-170,” said Rapport.
According to Rapport, applying to be either is a simple process with a few standard qualifications. Mentors must have at least a 2.5 GPA and mentees must be a first year student at SOU. This includes transfer students, freshmen straight from high school, international students, veterans, and more.
The mentor position is volunteer-driven and only requires one hour a week with the mentee, though more is encouraged. If you are looking to be a leader on campus or perhaps are already, a mentor is the perfect position for you.
“It is a good opportunity for them to take a leadership position, give back to the community, to develop as a young professional, and add to their resume,” said Rapport.
Applications are being accepted online at www.sou.edu/firstyear/mentor, or at the Academic Support Programs Office in the basement of the Stevenson Union.
Rapport says that matches are made between mentor and mentee according to similar interests and commonalities, such as veterans to veterans.
Although the ultimate goal is to provide the opportunity for academic success, Rapport says involvement in campus events is just as important.
“There are so many great things happening on campus,” she said.
Upcoming events that the FYMP will take part in include the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on campus this Saturday, attending the presentation of Race Awareness Week’s keynote speaker Aaron Huey next Tuesday, the Crater Lake Snowshoe trip with the Ecology Club of the Siskiyous on Feb. 18, tabling at the annual French Club dinner on Feb. 24, and ice skating downtown in Lithia Park.
“It’s a good opportunity to get someone to help show them the way,” said Rapport of being a mentee. “No one should have to do it alone.”
Robyn Eckert, former mentor and first year mentee describes her mentor last year as “amazing, helpful and inspiring,” and influenced her decision to become a mentor herself.
A very important aspect of mentoring to her is “being able to be there for someone when they don’t have anyone else,” she said.
Eckert and her mentee are looking forward to participating in the MLK Day of Service this Saturday as well as other future events.
Rapport says that she was a freshman when the FYMP was first started in 2008, and didn’t participate, but wishes she had.
“I could have benefitted a lot; I had trouble making friends,” she admits.
She hopes that like Eckert, more student mentees will eventually become mentors in return.
“You create lifelong friendships [in the FYMP]. It’s going to change your life somehow,” said Eckert.