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The Peer Mentor Program: Engaging new students, one freshman at a time

There are many different reasons why people choose to attend Hofstra University – the small class sizes, the beautiful campus and the proximity to New York City are all reasons often cited by incoming first-year students. Many people also note how nice people are at Hofstra when they are deciding between schools; faculty work hard to make sure students feel accepted and comfortable at Hofstra. However, there are some things that faculty cannot do. Many new students, whether entering as recent high school graduates or as transfer students, are not sure what to expect at a four-year college. Faculty cannot guide them through experiences like the best way to feel included as a member of a racial or sexual minority or how to adjust as a commuting student or to American society as an international student.

That’s where Hofstra University’s Peer Mentorship program comes in.

Colin Sullivan, the director of communication for Student Affairs, spoke about the Peer Mentorship program and what it entailed – specifically, what the goals of the program are.

Hofstra's Peer Alliance Program connects students through mentorship and co-curricular learning in six different tracks: Global (International), PRISM (LGBTQ+), Commuter, Transfer, Access and Diversity Peer Mentors,” Sullivan explained. “Peer Mentorship has been shown to improve student success and retention.”

As of Spring 2018, there are 80 mentors. Each spring, the Office of Student Affairs and the Office of Student Leadership (OSLE) encourage students to apply to become peer mentors.

“This program is an excellent leadership opportunity, and we encourage everyone to apply and help incoming Hofstra students,” Sullivan. said “Peer Alliance is dedicated to welcoming all students to Hofstra University. We seek to encourage student involvement, foster genuine connections and supply students with resources to comfortably and confidently acclimate to the Hofstra community.”

Students are usually assigned a peer mentor at the beginning of the semester. Peer Mentors help students adjust to the greater Hofstra community by providing them with resources, chatting with them to ease their anxiety and offering tips that helped them when they were first year students.

While the job may seem easy, it is not. All mentors go through an extensive training program that provides them with the skills and toolset they will need to make a tangible difference in their mentees’ college experiences. They are also required to have at least a 2.5 GPA, which is the standard student leadership requirement. While the Office of Student Affairs does not seek to discriminate against applicants for the program, it is necessary to make sure that responsible students apply for the position and can handle what it entails.

OSLE and the Office of Student Affairs make it very clear that all Hofstra students are encouraged to engage in this program, either as a mentee or mentor. Mentors will meet with their mentees during Welcome Week, a weeklong program designed to allow new Hofstra students to grow accustomed to the college campus with activities, events and trips.

Kathleen Lieblich, the assistant director for Student Advocacy and Prevention Awareness, also emphasized the possible benefits of participating in the program.

“It’s been incredibly exciting to see this program grow with such speed. We’ve seen numerous students benefit from peer-to-peer mentorship and hope to continue to grow this program. Any students looking'8 for a mentor or with suggestions for the program are encouraged to reach out to”

If you are a first-year student, consider applying for a Peer Mentor – there is no limit to the number of mentors that you can have as a new student. If you are already established at Hofstra but are interested in the Peer Mentor program, there is always the possibility of becoming a mentor yourself. There’s nothing better than helping someone else feel as welcome and wanted as you did your first Welcome Week. Get involved in the Hofstra community – not only will you learn valuable leadership skills, but you might also gain a new friend along the way.

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