Mentoring program is valuable connection for students

By Heather L. Meaney

The Student Mentoring Program at a New York college nurtures supportive relationships that lead to growth and learning.

Earlier this month, SUNY Schenectady County Community College student Macwood Jean-Marie stood up in front of a packed room at the 2018 Men of Color Student Leadership Institute and spoke about how he went from being homeless to now studying psychology at SUNY Schenectady. His presentation, titled “Faith + Vision + Resilience,” earned him the President’s Award at the conference. “It’s a big deal for me to be where I am now,” he said when he returned to campus after the conference.

Macwood’s participation, which marked the first time a SUNY Schenectady student attended the three-day conference that attracts students and educators from across the country, was possible through the college’s Student Mentoring Program.

Associate Professor Alicia Richardson is Macwood’s faculty mentor. “This was a wonderful opportunity for Macwood,” she said. “He really wanted to share his story and become and remain a positive role model for those in his community who hit road blocks and want to overcome them.”

Macwood is one of nearly 60 students who have participated in the Student Mentoring Program (SMP) which began last year and offers students a sustained and supportive relationship with a faculty or staff mentor to foster personal growth and learning. For Macwood, that growth has already meant helping others. “I have benefited from this program because I have been given the opportunity to become a mentor to other students and have had the chance to network with other people through this program,” he said. “I would advise students to take advantage of this opportunity because they too will be able to learn and thus, share their own gifts.”

Elizabeth Rivera, science major, is another mentee who counts on her weekly check-ins with her mentor Lorena Harris for support that stretches from academic advisement to advice on personal challenges she may be experiencing.

“Dr. Harris is always coming in with flyers and information about internships that I might be interested in,” Rivera said. “When I’m having academic struggles, she guides me with time management and resetting my priorities. She has also helped me with several struggles that I’ve dealt with being a young adult.”

She noted that Harris, who is the director of the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (C-STEP), is a constant presence for her on campus. “I know that I don’t have to go through this college experience by myself,” Elizabeth said. “I know that a lot of the things that I have to ask for help with, Dr. Harris is very knowledgeable about all of those things.”

The Student Mentoring Program is open to all currently enrolled students. Babette Faehmel, associate professor in the division of liberal arts and mentoring program coordinator, attributed the success of the program to the more than 30 mentors who are members of the college’s faculty, staff, and foundation. “Without the tireless efforts of our volunteer mentors this program would not be possible,” Faehmel said.

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Heather L. Meaney

is public relations/publications specialist II at SUNY Schenectady County Community College in New York.