Program matches new students with mentor

In addition to meeting many new professors, classmates and roommates at SIU, new students can get to know their mentors.

The new Saluki Peer Mentor program is an initiative meant to welcome new students to campus, said Phillip Campbell, coordinator of the Saluki Peers Program. Through the program, all new students are assigned a mentor.

While there was previously a mentor program in place at SIU, Campbell said it only catered to certain groups and academic success programs. He said the Saluki Peer Mentor program has expanded that initiative by pairing new students and mentors with similar interests and backgrounds.

Freshmen and new transfer students with 26 or fewer credit hours are each assigned a mentor and required to complete the University College 101 course, Campbell said.

Ashley Stegall, a sophomore from Harding studying university studies, sits in on the Foundations of Inquiry course Tuesday. The class is designed to help freshmen adjust to their first year at SIU. Mentors such as Stegall advise students on a variety of issues. “We’re kind of like the middleman between the students and the professors,” she said.
Nicole Hester-Daily Egyptian

Mentors are required to attend the University College 101 course, too, and have constant communication with the instructor, Campbell said. There are 125 mentors in the program, all from different races and backgrounds in order to meet the diversity of all new students, he said.

There are also non-traditional mentors for students who are new to the university but have children, full-time jobs or are former-but-returning students.

The program’s goals are to give new students a role model and provide them with information about getting around campus, extracurricular activities and tips to help complete their first year at the university, Campbell said.

“Research shows that having a peer mentor can lead to a better adjustment to college, finding more solutions for problems, and higher retention rates for mentored students,” he said.

The program also has several events on campus called Saluki Startup, which encourage new students and mentors to meet outside of class. The events were held the week before classes started.

“Last week’s events had a great turn out,” Campbell said. “We are very pleased with how many students were able to come out and mingle.”

To become a paid mentor, applicants go through an interview process to ensure they are capable of the position, he said. The student must be a sophomore or higher in good standing, have a 2.5 GPA,  completed two or more semesters at the university, be a full-time student and attend all training dates, he said.

“I believe we have chosen a great group for (the program),” Campbell said. “I am proud and excited to see how this program continues to develop.”

Amie Conway, a sophomore from Cutler studying business management, said she’s excited for her first year as a mentor to 26 freshmen.

“My biggest goal is to get them involved on campus because being involved and meeting new people is a large aspect of college life, and it will contribute to their success here as well as in the professional world,” she said.

Spencer Tribble, a senior from Chicago studying agribusiness economics, has been mentoring since his sophomore year in different mentor programs and said he still keeps in contact with some of his previous mentees.

“They know they can call me whenever they need advice or guidance,” he said. “Whatever I can do to help them be successful, I’m willing to do.”

Rob Goodin, a freshman from Carbondale studying radio-television, said being a new student in a new environment is confusing, and social connections help with the new college lifestyle. Goodin has not met his mentor yet, but he said he has been involved in the Saluki Startup events.

“It’s great to get involved with all of the Saluki Startup events and get out and meet new people because back in high school, your entire social structure was handed to you on a platter,” he said. “As a new Saluki, it is now up to us to forge our own path and make whatever impact on the community that we want to.”

The Saluki Peer Mentor program and the Carbondale community are hosting the Week of Welcome. Scheduled events for the week can be found on the university’s website.

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