Big Idea: First-Generation Mentoring Program

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Sherry Cummings had a big idea about how to help first-generation students be more successful at UT.

Let first-generation faculty and staff members mentor them.

Cummings, associate dean and chair of the Gerontology Certificate Program in the College of Social Work, said the idea grew out of her involvement with Higher Education Resource Services (HERS).

“Last summer I was of two women chosen by the Chancellor’s Office and the Commission for Women to participate in the HERS Leadership Institute,” Cumming said. “Every year they choose one or two women to participate. As part of the institute, each HERS participant completes a leadership project. The development of the First-Generation Mentoring Program is my leadership project.”

The Student Success Center, in collaboration with the Office of Multicultural Student Life, will oversee the First-Generation Mentoring Program for incoming Promise students.

The project needs fifteen first-generation faculty or professional staff members who are willing to serve as mentors for fifteen first-generation, first-year students during the 2013–2014 academic year.

The goal of the program is to support first-generation students as they transition to college, provide them with role models, increase their awareness of UT resources and culture, enhance their success skills, and help ensure their retention.

Faculty and staff mentors will share their life experiences with their mentees, assist them in navigating the university system, and help them determine their personal strengths and weaknesses and seek appropriate campus resources.

Faculty and staff mentors will commit to six monthly face-to-face meetings—three per semester—during the course of the academic year. There also will be an orientation meeting at the start of the fall 2013 semester and a closing celebration at the end of the spring 2014 semester. The program will provide support for mentors throughout the academic year.

First-generation faculty or professional staff members who would like to serve as a mentor are invited complete the application here no later than May 15, 2013.

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