By Natalie Saleh
The Graduate Student Association launched a new Graduate-Undergraduate Mentorship program this year, pairing up undergraduate students who are interested in graduate school with graduate students in their field. This is a great opportunity for undergraduates to learn more about graduate school, while graduate students gain valuable mentoring experience.
“The requirement is that you meet with a mentor once a semester, but what we’re discovering is our graduate students have a such a passion and our undergraduate students have such an interest in graduate school, it has created this constant back and forth,” says Tim Orr, president of the Graduate Student Association.
Though the program is still in its formative stages, undergraduate and graduate students have already exhibited plenty of interest. The program started this semester with only religion, psychology, and engineering students, but will soon expand to more majors since there is such a high demand.
Mike Whitenton, graduate student in religion, and Jeff Patton, freshman religion major, are two of Baylor’s first students to participate in this program.
“It’s something I’ve been interested in as a teacher. I’m interested not only in communicating information and facilitating learning in the classroom, but sometimes I’m even more interested in the broader lives of my students. So initially this was a way for me to be able to interact with undergraduate students outside my classroom, which I think is a really helpful complement to undergraduate teaching,” says Mike.
Not only is this a great opportunity for graduate students, but undergraduates appreciate the advice and guidance of mentors.
“As a religion major, you kind of can go a lot of different ways, so I feel like I can bounce ideas off of Mike, and he can tell me his experience and how he thought about stuff,” says Jeff.
There is currently a lot of freedom in the program for mentors and mentees to tailor the experience to what best serves their interests. This flexibility also makes it easier for students to fit mentoring into their busy schedules.
“I got a friend out of it. I’m glad that Mike’s cool and that we connected. We both have the same interests. It helps being the same majors, so we have stuff to talk about,” says Jeff.
In addition to the personal benefits of the program, it is a great opportunity for graduate students to get experience mentoring, as they will need to be mentors when they eventually obtain faculty positions. This will not only give them experience, but make them more competitive candidates for faculty positions when they enter the job market.
To learn more about The Graduate Student Association and their programs click here.
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