The Fall 2016 semester brought the beginning of the Westfield State Honors Mentoring Program. Despite formally starting in the fall, the program’s impact on students began over the summer. Olivia Barbeau, a first-year student in the Honors Program, said, “the Mentoring Program has helped me to adapt better to the Westfield community since I was able to text my mentor all summer. I liked that I got to know a familiar face on campus before I even got here.”
Based on their majors, hobbies, and interests, Olivia and other Honors Program members of the class of 2020 were paired with upper-class Honors students who volunteered to be mentors. The upper-class mentors were urged to connect with their mentees over summer break and answer any questions that they had. Olivia’s mentor, Katie Hester, did not disappoint her. Olivia was relieved knowing that her mentor had a lot of the same interests as she does and was therefore able to help make her transition to college life at West-field State much easier.
The mentees were not the only ones to benefit from the Mentoring Program. As the Honors Intern and a mentor myself, I got a lot out of the Mentoring Program. Planning events for the mentors and mentees to attend was enjoyable and rewarding. It was fulfilling to see how much some of the mentor/mentee pairings got to connect with one another. It was also nice to see how some of the first-year students made strong connections and friendships not only with their mentors, but with other upperclassmen and first-years while attending events throughout the semester.
The first event of the semester that brought the mentors and mentees together was Early Move-In Weekend. The weekend festivities provided the opportunity for everyone participating in the Mentoring Program to get to know one another through upperclassmen sharing their involvements on campus with the first-years, ice breakers, a scavenger hunt, and a cookout at Stanley Park. Other events that happened throughout the semester ranged from a Wings Social that drew in a huge crowd to a Peer Advising Night held close to registration time. The events received good reviews. Woody Woodger, a senior English major, said, “the first informal night where one of my mentees came was wonderful. Being able to casually chat with kids from across majors as well as get to know my mentee personally was deeply rewarding and was an opportunity I wish I had as a fresh-man.” Woody said of the events he got to attend, “they were always fun and well attended.”
The first semester of the Mentoring Program was a success. People enjoyed coming to the events that happened throughout the semester, and first-year students are getting guidance that has helped them adjust to West-field State and the Honors Program. I cannot wait to see what happens next semester. Who knows? Maybe some of our current mentees will rise up and volunteer to be men-tors next fall.
Kaitlyn is a senior Communication major from Pittsfield, MA.
Reprinted from the Squirrel Squire, the newsletter of the Honors Program