Pioneer Peer Mentoring

By Kenzie Frantz

Fall 2020 brought peer academic mentoring to campus. This program assists academically at-risk students in developing the skills necessary to have success in the classroom and to become lifelong learners. Mentors help develop skills such as: time management, organization, communication, note taking, test taking, goal setting and more. The idea behind the peer mentoring program came from Anna Meadows, the director of the Center for Student Success, and Jen Vannest, the director of academic support. “Giving [students] a strong connection with a peer can help them feel better connected to campus and other students…a strong connection to campus is important for retention,” said Vannest. Students are used to having many adults in their lives between parents, teachers, coaches, etc., which led Vannest to seek this kind of support for students’ new connections. There are currently four academic mentors: Grace Coakley, Sam Hier, Dominic Mariano, and Ashley Zehr. Each one works with three to five students. Ashley Zehr, senior social work and global and international studies major, loves the idea behind peer mentoring: students supporting students. “I was excited to support my peers in their classwork,” Zehr said. “This position allows me to help students see their potential and ability to complete college.” “The academic mentor program is designed to work beyond just subject specific help,” said Vannest, contrasting peer mentors with peer tutors. A tutor is mainly for academic help and is subject-specific, while mentors attempt to holistically better their peers’ academic lives. Even though tutors are subject specific, they are still enthusiastic about helping students. “[My favorite thing is] being able to spend time with people and teach them new

study habits,” said CJ Bancroft, junior exercise science pre-physical therapy major and peer tutor. Whether they’re a mentor or a tutor, their ultimate goal is to see fellow

pioneers succeed. Working with a peer mentor and having the new learning

space in the Cattell Library is meant to allow students to have the focus that they need.

“[The new, more central location of the Center for Student Success] has made it so much easier for students to find us and stop by to ask questions and get help,” said Vannest.

The Center for Student Success hosts both tutoring and academic mentoring. The new space on the second floor of the Cattell Library was gifted to Malone University by the Timken Foundation. The new, grant-funded space is tech savvy, allowing for things such as presentations, Zoom calls and online homework to be completed. “There are five tutor rooms set up with the technology to meet the needs of online tutoring and beyond,” said Vannest. “The best part of the new area in the library is the individual rooms, allowing for one on one,” Bancroft said. This allows for that peer to peer interaction the program is striving for. “We are very excited to have this new space that enhances our abilities to meet the needs of students on a daily basis,” said Vannest. For any questions about peer academic mentoring or how to become a mentor, reach out to Vannest via email jvannest@malone.edu or in person at the Center for Student Success, located on the second floor of the Cattell Library.

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