By Jocelyn Visnov, Web Editor/Asst. Production Editor
The School of Liberal Arts has announced the creation of a new peer-to-peer mentorship program. Set to officially begin before the Fall 2022 semester, the goal of this program is for students within the School of Liberal Arts (SOLA) to assist one another throughout their academic journeys.
Interim dean of the SOLA, Cory Blad, has helped assist this student-led initiative to benefit SOLA as well as the campus community.
“We have mentor programs that kind of link existing students with career professionals, and we have other mentoring programs that maybe kind of focus on targeted audiences and things like that,” Blad said. “But we don’t necessarily have student-to-student, peer-to-peer mentoring programs in the way that he [Harris] felt they would be quite helpful, especially for first year incoming students.”
The goal of the Liberal Arts Mentorship Program (LAMP) is to provide students with a student contact that is able to help guide new students through the beginnings of their SOLA careers while taking advantage of various resources and opportunities within the school itself.
“This is an idea that can be really, really beneficial for us, building the School of Liberal Arts and kind of ensuring that our students are taken care of and that their questions are answered and that their needs are being met,” Blad said.
The original idea for a peer-to-peer program within SOLA came from senior DeVaughn Harris. Harris approached Blad with the idea during the spring of his junior year. Harris and Blad have worked side-by-side since then to collaborate on different ideas for what is now known as LAMP.
“We have great students who are just living what it means to be a liberal arts student, and are willing to communicate that to younger students or newer students,” Harris said. “I wanted to put that on display.”
Harris explained that he believed the informal nature of the program would be especially beneficial to students.
“I wanted to have a system for that where they don’t feel as though they have to set up meetings with their mentor or anything like that, but just get in contact with somebody and establish a relationship,” Harris said. “It could be completely formal, completely informal, which is to establish a relationship where you get to see the inner workings of the liberal arts day in and day out.“
After sending out an initial message via email to gauge interest from current SOLA students, Blad and Harris are now working with a group of sophomores and juniors who will become the first group of mentors for SOLA freshmen beginning in the Fall of 2022.
Maeve Kirk, a communication major, explained what exactly it means to be a mentor within the LAMP.
“To be a LAMP mentor is to offer guidance and support to new students and help better our program to better the school community,” Kirk wrote. “It is really exciting to be a part of this program because I like helping my fellow students, especially any new students to help ease any anxieties and offer my own experiences to better theirs. It is also really exciting to work with other people who are passionate about helping others, and this program that DeVaughn started will definitely benefit the school.”
Christopher Belden, a sophomore SOLA student, is among the group of current students who will become mentors in the fall.
“We want to help create programs within the mentor program that will allow these freshmen to see ‘okay, this is what I can do with a history degree,’ or ‘here’s Person X, who’s in that path who has had opportunities and internships, and they can help me follow their path’ but make it my own in these programs will help widen their spectrum,” Belden said.
DeVaughn Harris transferred into SOLA after starting his MC career in the School of Engineering. Now a senior soon to graduate with a BA in Philosophy, Harris reflects fondly on his time as a SOLA student and hopes to create an even better experience for students in years to come.
“I don’t know we [Liberal Arts majors] often get this weird rap,” Harris said. “But there are some of the best thinkers and best people in the School of Liberal Arts and options like this are available to them simply because of the education they received… I encourage every liberal arts major to take advantage of tools that they’re given with their education.”
If you’re interested in becoming a LAMP mentor, reach out to Dean Blad or DeVaughn Harris for more information on how to get involved. New SOLA students in any class can request to receive a Mentor through LAMP to help enrich their experience studying liberal arts.