UA Faculty and Students Organize New Mentoring Program
The Latino student population is the fastest growing at the UA, with a 24 percent increase from last year, according to the 11th day enrollment report. With the growing numbers, the UA has started a new mentoring program for Hispanic students.
Conexiones Latinas mentoring program is a foundation created by the Office of Diversity Affairs and the Multicultural Center.
The process for researching and benchmarking began last year, but they did not solidify the goals and initiatives for the program until this year.
After receiving some information on the Latino mentoring programs at George Mason University, Cedric Kenner, director of the Multicultural Center, started discussing the concept with Rafael Garcia, admissions counselor.
“Rafael gathered additional information and discussed the concept with the Latino faculty, staff and students,” Kenner said.
The Multicultural Center and the office of diversity affairs already offered a mentoring program in which participants were mostly African American students. This year, however, they wanted to provide one for the Hispanic diversity as well, Kenner said.
“We are extremely excited about the future and how it will have an impact on the retention of our Latino students,” Kenner said.
Alejandra Gonzalez, president of Conexiones Latinas, has a goal to create a strong foundation for and would like to have a positive, welcoming image for incoming freshmen as well as transfer students, he said.
Part of the mission of the mentoring program is to retain freshmen by pairing them with upperclassmen that have been successful at the UA, Kenner said.
“We want to help students have a successful transition into the UA by providing a strong academic and professional support network, and by promoting academic excellence and leadership through various programs and services,” Garcia said.
Upperclassmen and students familiar with campus and involved with organization will serve as mentors.
“Conexiones Latinas Mentoring Program is beneficial to the Hispanic community because it creates a support system for them,” Gonzalez said. “Transitioning can be such a hard process, but by having this program, we are helping students be strong in their academics and hopefully helping them develop a professional network.”
The Multicultural Center and the Office of Latino Academic Advancement and Community Relations are currently financially assisting the program.
“Students who join will be volunteering as mentors and mentees,” Garcia said. “However, we are looking for incentives to offer to those that participate.”
“Because this is such a new program, the events that we are planning to do are still being brainstormed,” Gonzalez said. “However, our main focus right now is to have the mentors build a good support system with our mentees.”
Mentors need to meet with their mentees at least twice a month and keep in contact through email, Facebook, text messaging and other communication conduits, according to the application.
The first meeting was Sept. 14th and Conexiones Latinas members are in the process of electing officers and seeking a date for their next meeting.