For students in Florida A&M’s First-Year Experience program, the transition to college is much easier thanks to mentors who talk to them about life skills, career planning and job preparation, organizers say.
Hundreds of incoming freshmen are participating in FYE over the summer as part of their college preparatory training Student Life Skills 1101 course.
Program Coordinator Lawrence Brown asserted that having an upperclassman nearby helps freshmen navigate their first year in college.
“That peer mentor is there to try to ease that transition, to give that world of advice, to be that shoulder for them to cry on if need be,” Brown said.
All non-pharmacy and non-business freshmen take SLS, meaning the majority of the incoming class of FAMU students is placed in an FYE classroom. This is the second year that FAMU is providing FYE.
FAMU instructors teach the course while mentors act almost as translators, conveying the information from the minds of a current student.
“The peer mentors are a support for the learning in the class, and that’s because of their knowledge, of their experience here at FAMU so far, and it’s been very valuable,” said instructor Carlotta Mitchell.
“Oftentimes peer mentors are required to give mentees their phone number and email address,” Brown said, “Although this is not required, I encourage Facebook interaction. For the students who have GroupMe on their smart phones, I definitely encourage the students to use that.”
Dominique L. James, 19, a second-year business student, completed SLS 1101 last summer, the year it started. James said that as a mentee, she learned about the programs the university has to support students. “I’ve grown so much…. We had to do a series of assignments that forced us to go to different resources on campus,” James said. “It made me realize what all FAMU has to offer me.”
This summer, she decided to become a mentor to help provide freshmen with an experience like hers. “I was in the program last summer, and the program did so much for me,” James said. “I wanted to give students the same opportunity that I was given.”
The mentorship program benefits both the mentees and mentors, said Alfred Henderson Jr, a mentor.
“It made me actually have a glimpse of a career change, like I actually want to do education sometime in my future,” said Henderson, a 20-year-old third-year accounting student.
Peer mentor Larry Bowden Jr, 20, a third-year political science student, said, “I actually learned a lot in this class. I learned that, even though there’s a slight age difference, we all go through the same problems, and that they help me with mine, and I help them with there’s.”
For more information about the FYE Peer Mentor Program, contact Mr. Lawrence Brown at 850-412-5719.