Saturday, December 7, 2013

RSC Reaches Out With Peer Mentors

It’s human nature. When your mother asks you to do something, you take it with a grain of salt. Your friend makes the same request and you’re on it like a Black Friday shopper lining up at the mall.

Why the difference?

“We tend to relate to our peers more so than others,” said David Hall, director of academic advisement at Rio Salado College.

That is the foundation for a new peer mentoring program in the college’s advising department.

The peer mentors are part of RioAchieve, an initiative dedicated to increasing student completion rates, and part of a student success grant the college received in October 2012.

Rio Salado has hired four peer mentors to reach out to degree-seeking students who are new to the college.

“Peer mentors are current students who have proven to be successful, with at least a 3.0 grade point average,” Hall said. “They know the system and they know the available resources. They can offer tips on how to be successful.”

The peer mentors will each be assigned a group of students, with a goal of guiding them through their chosen academic program to completion.

“The peer mentor team will reach out to their students, hoping to work with them regularly and guide them through their programs efficiently,” said Michael Murphy, assistant director of academic advisement. “More importantly, the mentors will be there when the student has questions, concerns, or just needs someone to talk to about their studies.”

Mentors will interact with students in many ways, including telephone, email, in-person meetings and through social media. Through these communication channels, peer mentors can share their own experiences and strategies from a personal perspective, and build unique relationships with students.

Students participating in the RioAchieve initiative will have both a peer mentor and an academic advisor.

Where the peer mentors will serve a motivational support type role, the academic advisors ensure students choose appropriate classes, evaluate transfer credits and help develop program plans.

Jennifer Wharton, a Rio Salado employee for five years, will serve as the supervisor of the RioAchieve advising team.

"I am delighted to be part of the team providing student-focused proactive advisement and mentoring through the RioAchieve program,” Wharton said. “Offering peer mentoring is an exciting new opportunity to connect with our students at a different level.”