The CCAPS Peer Mentor Program helps new students feel welcome and gain valuable insights into campus life

Photo: CCAPS peer mentors and mentees from left to right: Ann Yang, Vivian Pham, Bethlehem Abraha, and Lucy Pilgrim-Rukavina.

Last fall, the College of Continuing and Professional Studies started a peer mentoring program to connect incoming undergraduate students with peers who have more experience under their belt in the same program. The idea was to help new students transition smoothly into their new programs, feel a sense of belonging, cultivate relationships, and quickly find useful resources. Students in the Health Services Management (HSM), Information Technology Infrastructure, and Construction Management bachelor’s degree programs are eligible for participation.

The inaugural cohort—all from the HSM program—has come back with glowing reviews—here’s what some of them had to say about their experience.

What made you want to become a peer mentor/mentee?

Lucy Pilgrim-Rukavina (Mentor): When I first heard about the CCAPS Peer Mentor Program I thought, what a great way to get more involved with the HSM community, as a current student, and provide what I did not get in my past mentorship to a fellow peer. 

Through being a mentor, I wanted to improve my leadership and mentorship skills. 

Vivian Pham (Mentor): I never had experience being a mentor before, so when I heard about this program, I thought it would be a great opportunity to get some experience. Through being a mentor, I wanted to improve my leadership and mentorship skills. Aside from that, becoming a peer mentor would allow me to help a peer going through a similar educational path as mine.

Ann Yang (Mentee): I wanted to be able to talk to someone who can relate to me during school. 

Bethlehem Abraha (Mentee): I wanted to become a mentee to learn and grow as much as possible with the help of someone who had a little more experience with my major. As an incoming transfer student, I was a little overwhelmed and unsure on how to navigate my major or the newer and much bigger institution that was UMN compared to my last school, and thought that there is no better person to be able to help me navigate that transition than someone who went through the same thing. 

What goals were you hoping to achieve while in the program? Were you able to reach those goals? 

LPR: (1) Foster a trustworthy relationship with my mentee, (2) build upon my leadership skills, and (3) provide ongoing guidance, support, and encouragement to my mentee through sharing of personal experience. All of these goals were achieved. 

AY: The goals I wanted to achieve were to have a better understanding of my school environment and Vivian was the best mentor ever to help me navigate my first year. 

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions about everything and anything.”

BA: While in the program I was hoping to gain advice with internship and job applications, improving my resume and the choosing of coursework for my major. With the help of my mentor I was able to significantly improve my resume and cover letter writing skills and was able to land an internship for the incoming summer. This was my main goal for the year, but I was also able to pick the right classes for me thanks to the valuable feedback from my mentor. 

What is something valuable you learned that you plan to pass along to others? 

LPR: Mentees will be doing most of the learning but they also have a lot to offer to you as a mentor. 

VP: Whether you are a mentor or mentee, both can learn from each other and potentially develop a great relationship between the two that is built on support and encouragement. Being a mentor has made me realize the satisfaction of giving back and using my insights to guide someone. To be able to help another peer while also being a student yourself is already valuable enough in itself. :)

AY: Don’t be afraid to ask questions about everything and anything.

BA: What I learned from being a mentee in this program that I’d like to pass along is to try out as many opportunities to learn from others as you can. You never know where things might lead, but you miss 100% of the shots you never take. By joining this program I was able to learn of opportunities I didn’t even know about, thanks to my mentor, so I would recommend taking initiative to seek out as many opportunities as you can.

“You never know where things might lead, but you miss 100% of the shots you never take.”

What surprised you about the CCAPS Peer Mentor Program experience? 

LPR: I was surprised by how much my mentee and I have in common. 

VP: There is a lot of flexibility for mentors in this program and I really appreciated that as it allowed me to comfortably direct my peer mentor relationship with my mentee. 

BA: I’d like to now consider my peer mentor someone who is also my friend and someone that I can really trust and come to if I needed anything. Me and my peer mentor met pretty often and we talked about other things besides school, such as updates about what was going on in our lives, and made plans to hang out throughout the year. Going into the program I expected to meet maybe once a month and definitely expected a more “formal” or simple relationship with someone I could learn from, but I’m happy to have gotten to spend time with the mentor I was paired with because she was someone who took the time to help me research internships, reach out to her contacts, and even helped me get a job this semester. Going into the program I didn’t expect to take away as much as I did over the past year but I’m happy I did. 

What advice do you have for a person who is considering becoming a CCAPS peer mentor or mentee?

LPR: Become a CCAPS Peer Mentor! It is such a rewarding experience that doesn't require a huge time commitment. But, I would recommend meeting every two weeks if you can to provide the most value to your mentee.

VP: For those who want to explore a relationship of being either a peer mentor or mentee, I would strongly suggest going forward with it! You can never know what you could get out of this program unless you try. It is all a learning experience in both roles. :)

“You can never know what you could get out of this program unless you try. It is all a learning experience in both roles.”

AY: Be open and be informative. Also be involved.

BA: I would recommend anyone who is considering becoming a mentee to absolutely do because you’d have nothing to lose and a lot to gain. If you are considering becoming a mentor I would also say to do it because you could help someone on the journey you may have already been on that they’re currently on and even be able to pass along knowledge that you wish you’d known along the way. 

Want to learn more? Visit the Peer Mentor Program website for details and deadlines.