Minority college students with mentors reap benefits

As part of our 20 Challenges in 2012 initiative to celebrate Mass Mentoring’s 20th anniversary, we are releasing a series of challenges to address key goals of mentoring in Massachusetts. Goal six is 20 ways that communities grow with mentoring. The Highland Street Corps Ambassadors of Mentoring have researched 20 ways that mentoring provides positive social benefits that strengthen schools, families and communities. You can read more about their findings here.

This guest post is from Lianna Mika, an Ambassador at the Boston Area Health Education Center.

Minority college students with mentors have higher GPAs, on average, than those that do not and are also more likely to persist in college. A program at Roxbury Community College, Mentoring for Success, has provided mostly first-generation, minority college students with mentors to help them navigate their college career and give them the support they need to do their best in school. Here are the experiences of some of the mentees of the program:

It’s great to have someone related to my major (business major and computer science minor) to talk to about my interests and to learn new things. My mentor, Matt, has been teaching me more about binary codes and it’s pretty cool. I don’t really have anybody in my family that can share in that kind of experience, or in the experience of going to college. My semesters have been really tough so it’s nice to have someone who I know cares about me and encourages me to set and reach more of my goals. I’ve learned mentoring means that not only do I learn from Matt, but he learns from me. While Matt and I share a lot of similarities, I have also learned a lot from our differences. I know my mentoring relationship is one that will go beyond college. It’s one that we can keep building on, a relationship and friendship that will last beyond my time in Mentoring for Success.
-Jerome Allen

Being a first-generation college student - as well as being Latino - has been, and is, a significant burden on my shoulders. My family immigrated to the United States in the 1980s, during the Salvadoran civil war, to look for economic opportunity, and overall a better life. After I was born in 1992, they have devoted their lives to encourage me to pursue Higher Education so I can have a better quality of life. Thanks to the RCC mentoring program, and in particular my mentor, Sterling, I have received support so I can pursue my dreams in becoming a college graduate. I am grateful that I had a support system during my first year of college. I feel more comfortable in my studies, and with my mentor’s help and guidance, I can find my place as part of this community. Thanks to the mentors in my life, I am graduating this year and will continue my studies at a four-year university.
-Daniel Alfaro

Entering college as a first-generation college student was a bit overwhelming at first. However, once I was able to get into the swing of things, it was not nearly as daunting as I had originally envisioned.  When I heard about Mentoring for Success, I thought to myself, “Wow! I could only further improve by becoming a part of this.” As a result of my mentoring experience, I began a wonderful journey of self-exploration, understanding, and endurance. There were times when I began to feel discouraged and just needed someone to talk to. I knew that there was always someone on campus, whether it was mentoring staff or my mentor, Jenene, that I could trust, vent to, and help me triumph over the many obstacles that were in my way. The Mentoring for Success program truly helped me better trust myself and all that I am capable of doing. I no longer feel that I have to do everything on my own. The program also served as an outlet, a source of support and encouragement, and a way of making college FUN! I genuinely LOVED my experience with this program!
-Shanetta Slayton

As you can see, these minority college students all benefitted from meeting with their mentors and felt that they were prepared to stay in college and to do their best. College is a big transition for many students, and the support mentees receive from their mentors can mean the difference between staying in school and doing as well as possible or feeling overwhelmed and possibly suffering in this new experience.