The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps of Florida A&M University has established a mentorship program this semester that allows a network of cadets to work together toward academic success and cadet development, said Lt. Col. Kelvin K. Scott, a professor of military science.
Every year, members of the Rattler Battalion are required to take one ROTC class and lab. As a result of being required to take the ROTC class, students are getting behind in the curriculum and are not graduating on time. , Scott said. In addition, some have failed classes, while others have failed to complete the mandatory hours.
“Students are staying in school longer than they promised,” said Keith Farmer, 22, a senior English student from Atlanta and cadet battalion executive officer and academic adviser. “The program was established to better assist cadets with these problems.”
The mentorship program is designed to have upperclassmen mentor other students in the Rattler Battalion.
“Students had a requirement to begin gathering class assessments from their instructors by the third week of classes,” noted Scott via e-mail.
Scott said he hopes that this method will make instructors aware that students are making an attempt to communicate with them in an effort to stay focused on doing well this semester.
“You get progress reports from two teachers,” said Antonio Brown – which is a way of finding out a grade before it is too late.
Brown, 20, a sophomore economics student from Coco Beach and a member of ROTC, said he believes the mentorship program is a good idea because it puts students on “the right academic path” and gives them the opportunity to get help.
“I think the mentoring program is a good idea if they do it right,” said Jeff Holden, 20, a sophomore physical education student from Houston and a FAMU cadet.
“But the way they are doing it won’t work.” Holden said that the seniors who are mentoring gave out the paperwork but “are not following through.”
Scott has a very positive outlook on the program. He said the planned outcome is to “assist freshmen transition to college and other students balancing social and academic requirements.”
Other advantages Scott described are the ability to “identify cadets struggling in classes and personal matters in time to assist them, stop failure to graduate within the timeline prescribed for their assigned major, and overall GPA improvements.”
The mentorship program has already been established in other brigades of universities in Florida, Georgia and Puerto Rico.
“Many of the universities have success stories about the values of the mentorship,” Scott said. Cadets are said to be aware of the mentorship program, which has provided information about scholarships, academic labs and study sessions and ways to improve grades.
But some members of the ROTC aren’t familiar with the recently implemented mentoring program.
Baron Cole, 22, a junior graphic design student from Pensacola, and Larry Jones, 23, a senior mechanical engineering student from Tallahassee, didn’t know much about how the mentoring program worked.
Jones said, “If someone has a problem (with school), we help each other.”
Jones thinks study programs take away from learning.
Scott recognizes that these mentorship bonds have already been established in the Rattler Battalion because that is something that happens informally in the Army culture.
“I have been in the Army over twenty years and I still have a mentor. It is great because I continue to learn from the experience of other leaders,” Scott said.
Formally assigning underclassmen to other students of the ROTC was a way of assuring everyone received this benefit.
“I recommend the program,” Brown said. Now everyone has a mentor, it’s just up to the cadet to use the program.
“The mentorship program is a positive thing. It can’t hurt you,” Holden said.
Cadet Farmer agrees, “The mentoring program is a great idea. Nothing wrong with helping your fellow man.”
The program is meant to reinforce the idea of “no man left behind.”
“The mentorship is justifying and rationalizing that ROTC is always ‘helping your fellow man,'” Farmer added.
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