Minority Mentoring recognized as an outstanding program

The College’s Minority Mentoring program earned national recognition this July, when it received the 2003 Noel-Levitz Retention Excellence Award.

“This award is a testament to the students we have here,” Wayne Jackson, the Minority Mentoring program coordinator, said.

“One of the most underutilized parts of a campus is students helping students.”

Designed to ease the transition from high school to the College for African-American and Hispanic students, the Minority Mentoring program offers resources to incoming freshman and returning sophomores.

The program has helped the College’s minority retention rate exceed the state’s average of 78 percent and also had a positive impact on minority graduation rates. The College’s retention rate is 91.6 percent.

Students in the program can participate in peer tutoring, focus groups and committee run community service projects.

They can also request assistance in seeking scholarships.

In particular, freshmen and sophomores have access to certain programs.

Freshmen can request upperclassmen mentors, while sophomores may request faculty mentors.

Jackson said student participants often benefit from the extra attention they receive through the Minority Mentoring program.

Erika Gonzalez, senior marketing major, has been involved with the program for four years, and has served as a focus group leader for the past three years.

She said the best advantage of the program is students develop close bonds with the College’s minority community.

“It provides a strong support system,” Gonzalez said.

According to Jackson, many of the students who participate as freshmen later become upperclassmen volunteers.

Michelle Polo, senior psychology major, became involved with the program her freshman year and now acts as a mentor for other incoming students.

“My mentor was very important to me and I found it all very beneficial,” Polo said.

Jessica Rivera, senior finance major, has been volunteering as a peer mentor since her sophomore year.

She credits her involvement to the “one on one relationship” she had with her own peer mentor when she was a freshman.

The Minority Mentoring Program plans to participate in the National Black Student Leadership Development Conference.

The organization also plans to establish a Minority Mentoring Alumni Association later this year.

Jackson accepted the award and will host a workshop at the Noel-Levitz National Conference for Student Retention in San Diego.