Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Rewards of Student Mentoring

By Vinni Anadham

At UT Dallas we have wonderful student leadership programs that do work within and outside the university to help our community grow. One of them is the UTD-HBI Mentoring program with AVID students at Williams High School where UT Dallas students work with the 9th and 10th graders. This program is funded by the US Department of Justice through a nonprofit organization, the Home Builders Institute in Washington, DC. 

On our campus the EPPS School leads the program, however all current UT Dallas students are eligible to join. The program’s goal is for current college students to motivate high school students to attend college and answer any questions that they might have about college life. The student coaches, including myself, spend a couple hours with them on a Friday afternoon, once every month while enjoying a slice of pizza or two! Every meeting, there is always a new surprise waiting for us, whether it’s a game, project, or trip!!  

I joined in October of last semester and attended my first event in November when we all went over to Williams High School for a Scavenger Hunt. All of the mentors were divided up with our own set of 5-6 students to find random items around the school. It was my first time there, and I had expected it would take time for the students to get to know me. But the minute I met my group, we clicked and were laughing at jokes as if we’ve known each other for years. I was amazed to see how welcoming the high school students were to a complete stranger.

Obviously being a student mentor requires a lot of responsibility, because despite professors, teachers, and other adults present there, you are in charge of your group and they don’t always want to do what’s asked of them. So it’s necessary for you to make sure they are all there, and staying on task. Younger students will more likely listen to older students rather than the adults. They look up to older students as role models, so even though it’s fun to chat with them, we have to remember to set good examples for them so that the world is a much happier place for everyone.

Since I’ve joined we have done a variety of things such as learning how to knit,  organizing a mini demo of college life on campus, and even a Christmas celebration. Currently we’re getting ready for our big end of the year event, and along with that we will donate some "get well" items to children who are hospitalized with cancer and long term illnesses.

I enjoy being with the students not only because they remind me of the fun high school years, but also because they are so much fun to hang out with.  Unfortunately we only get to meet them once a month, but I have to say that I’m always looking forward to our Fridays together!! 

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