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SMC program pairs first year students with senior mentors

Madeline Miles | Tuesday, September 6, 2011

In the fall of 2009, Saint Mary’s College began Cross Currents, a program intended to help first year students adjust to college life with the assistance of a senior mentor.

Two years after the program’s inception, both seniors and first year students are still feeling its positive impact.

Mentors meet with their first year groups to discuss academics, major decisions and campus life.

First year student Carmen Brooks said the program’s meetings have given her an opportunity to learn about upperclassmen’s academic experiences while meeting new students.

“I found the mentoring group helpful because my mentor had a lot of good advice about the classes I was taking,” Brooks said. “It’s also helpful to talk to the other freshmen because we can all give each other advice and we were able to meet new people right away.”

First year Abby Roggemann said the program’s meetings allowed her to share both the challenges and positive experiences of the college adjustment period with her peers.

“I like meeting because we get to talk about problems we have or what we’re doing in school and around campus,” Roggemann said.

Cross Currents was built as a collaboration of the College’s Academic, Mission and Student Affairs divisions, according to the program’s July 2009 press release. The program expands the opportunities available to each student during her four years at the College and provides a more robust approach to advising.

Seniors are chosen by faculty advisers to become Cross Currents mentors for first year students in their respective department.

Senior Ximena Velez was nominated by her biology professor to participate in the program as a mentor. Velez said she agreed to join because she remembers the challenges she faced starting her first year and wanted to help others through the process.

“It has made me realize how much impact we, as upperclassmen, can have on first year students,” said Velez. “It’s rewarding to be able to help someone who is as lost as I was at one point.”