Mentoring program seeks to help new students

Kaitlyn Jorgensen
Staff Writer

Members of the Village Mentoring Program gathered for a luncheon and discussion of the new organization at Minnesota State University, Mankato Friday, Feb. 7.

The Village Mentoring program seeks to create an open environment where first and second-year students of color can ask questions, seek guidance, and become acquainted with the many resources available on campus and in the community. Individuals who self-select into the program will receive a graduate assistant, faculty, or staff mentor who can assist in the many adjustments to campus life and offer support throughout the individual’s academic career.

Kenneth Reid, the Director of the Center for African American Affairs along with Ann Swartz-Beckius, the Director of Retention at MNSU, are heading up the initiative for this program which is still in its infancy.

“As a first-generation college student from Chicago, I didn’t have the resources, skill set, or knowledge to help me get through college, and I want other students of color to have the tools and opportunities they need to be successful,” said Reid. “Statistics and data support that students of color tend to underperform at college, and this is because they have unique socio-economic barriers that can impede them from being successful academically.”

At the event, Reid discussed several strategies for mentors to best assist their mentees such as setting SMART goals, resources on D2L, meal vouchers for mentors to dine with students on campus, and exploring mutual interests such as attending sporting events, concerts, and plays. Also discussed was creating a “mentoring agreement” which can help mentees set goals and help mentors hold them accountable.

Maixee Vang, is a mentor in the program and faculty at the University Advising Office. Vang got to meet with her mentee, Tanaya Fanning, for the first time at this event. Vang said, “Reid just reached out and asked me if I wanted to mentor new students and help them navigate freshman year. I thought it would be a great opportunity.”

Fanning is a sophomore majoring in psychology. She said, “I have high hopes for this program because I’ve been involved in many mentorship programs throughout my life, and a lot of them provided me with different tools that can help me with my future.”

Other goals Reid discussed for the semester are for mentors to assist mentees in filling out scholarships, work on study habits, choosing majors, and an upcoming yoga event they will be hosting.

Sandi Schnorenberg, the Director of Security on campus, is also a mentor in the program. She said, “I formerly worked for Mankato Public Safety as a police officer, and during that time I saw many students that were going down the wrong path in life and was not in a position to guide them. With this program I am excited to help mentor students and hopefully have an impact so they are successful as students, and in life.”

Kevin Barboza is a sophomore majoring in computer engineering and technology and a mentee in the program. Barboza said, “Out of this program, I hope to learn time management skills and confidence in myself and abilities.”

Maria Bevacqua, Barboza’s mentor, is a professor in the Department of Gender and Women’s studies. She said, “I am a strong believer that MNSU students are all our students. I know GWS students better, but if there are other students on campus who need my help, I want to be that resource for them. I am committed to the campus efforts to see improvement in helping students of color continue to graduate.”

Header photo: Kenneth A. Reid, Director of the Center for African American Affairs, speaks at The Village Mentoring Program Luncheon in the CSU this past Friday. The event is aimed at connecting new students to deans and professors in their prospective major for guidance on classes, coursework and college life as a whole.  (Andrew Bravo/MSU Reporter)

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