Mentorship vital to minority students’ success
As a Scholar's Mentorship Program (SMP) mentor, Bernadette Morris (College Recorder) provides students of color with academic and personal support to help them succeed in college.
Coupled with her role of reviewing all student transcripts and clearing them for graduation in the Office of Records and Registration, Morris says she is filled with pride knowing that she has helped her students reach that important milestone.
The success of students in the program has not gone unnoticed. On March 5 and 6, a team from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) visited the campus to study and identify what contributes to Hispanic student success at New Paltz.
The college is one of 10 public colleges chosen by the organization as having high graduation rates for Hispanic students. The Scholar's Mentorship Program was named along with the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), the Alliance for Minority Participation (AMP) program and the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (C-STEP) as a contributing factor to this recognition.
For Morris, the most important thing she can offer her students, known in the program as protégés, is her availability.
"My door is always open and I am willing to help them, no matter what they are facing," she said.
Building a strong support system from the beginning provides the 300 students in the program with the tools they need to succeed. In their first semester, the protégés are paired with an academic contact (the faculty/staff mentor) and a social contact (the peer mentor).
"It is gratifying to play a role in sustaining the population of Hispanic students on campus," Margaret Wade- Lewis, director of the Scholar's Mentorship Program.
The connection between a faculty/staff mentor and protégé is not limited to academics. Wade-Lewis said depending on the dynamic between the mentor and protégé, many faculty/staff members play a larger role in their students' lives.
"I am often invited to attend my protégés' events," said Wade-Lewis. "I take them up on the offer every time."
Jordan Yue '08 (Public Relations), whose mentor, Robert Miller, (Communication and Media) is now his academic advisor, said, "My faculty mentor spoke to me about classes, made sure I was doing OK and gave me insight about the school."
Morris said she has forged bonds with many of her protégés that have lasted beyond their graduation.
"It is a good feeling to know that I have been a facilitator of success," she said.
Wade-Lewis added that participation in the program benefits faculty/staff mentors by providing them with a more personal look at the students on campus. It also provides them with a connection to their cultural group, as mentors and protégés are paired based on culture, gender or major.
"As a young academic, the program provides the type of interaction with students that goes beyond the classroom experience," said Karanja Keita Carroll (Black Studies), who joined the faculty as a lecturer this year.
But the main reason may be that it allows faculty and staff members to play a role in the success of a student.
"It is extremely rewarding to watch them develop," said Wade-Lewis.
Morris added, "I am so very proud of the students I have worked with."
March 12 , 2007
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