by Mena Runkle ’23
The peer mentor program here at Graceland University is an amazing program designed to help first-year students know their way around. This program offers first-year students’ personal stories from older students who have had experience navigating college life, or just to offer a friendly face these students can come to for guidance.
For me, personally, the peer mentor program has provided me with someone who can relate to me on a personal level due to the situation I am currently in. My peer mentor, Taz Richardson, is a first-generation college student and is involved in the TRIO program, just like I am.
I asked Taz if he liked being a part of the peer mentor program.
“Yeah, I think it is going to take me far in the long run. When I was asked to be a peer mentor, I was kind of iffy because I am an introvert. I didn’t know if I could speak in front of a class. I actually like it now, and it gave me a chance to open my doors up to new opportunities, and for me to be a leader.”
I asked Rachel Chavez the same question.
“Being a peer mentor has changed my life! It’s given me so much experience in being a mentor, friend and leader, and I know all of that will be beneficial in my future career as an educator. Not only have I been given the opportunity to create relationships with people from all different walks of life, but this program has allowed me to grow as a person. I’m honored to be the peer mentor program co-coordinator this year with first-year seminar coordinator Jen Abraham-White, and I love that I get to support and encourage the other peer mentors in their journey. I believe peer mentoring is crucial for student success in that peers are helping to guide each other toward reaching their goals and accomplishing great things!”
According to Jen Abraham-White, “The peer mentor program will give peer mentors the opportunities to practice the soft skills needed in the marketplace today: communication, organization, collaboration with diverse populations, critical thinking and empathy.”
This program not only benefits first-year students, but it also helps the peer mentors open up about who they are, and it opens doors to new leadership opportunities. The peer mentor program offered me someone who could understand my struggles and my background and provides me with resources to be successful in college.
As Taz and I talked about the peer mentor program, I recognized how diverse the peer mentors are and how this program provides someone for everyone to connect to and see a new perspective. This diversity allows not only one group of people to feel welcomed, but all groups and kinds of people to get involved around campus.
The peer mentor program has may benefits for more than just the first-year students we have here on campus. Being a part of the peer mentor program is not just something to write down on resumes, but it also allows you to be a part of new leadership opportunities, a way to build stronger leadership skills and gain personal connections with one another. When you are a peer mentor, you are looked up to, and I’m grateful for what my experience with the peer mentors has provided me.
You can learn more about Graceland’s first-year experiene initiatives and the peer mentors on this page.