The Office of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement (IME) has officially launched the new First-Generation Mentorship Program. The program focuses on connecting first generation students with staff, faculty and alumni that are also first generation.
Director of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement Joann Zhang had noticed in her three years at Lewis & Clark that there was not a lot of support for the first generation community on campus. She wanted to create a mentorship program that helps first generation students to navigate through college and after college as well.
“Whether you’re a first year or a fourth year student, we welcome you all to be part of this First- Generation Mentorship Program, knowing that sometimes college can be hard, especially if you don’t have the language or the family members to help support you through that,” Zhang said.
As well as pairing students with experienced mentors, the First-Generation Mentorship Program also assigns different tasks for first generation students to help set them up for the future. Zhang said that the tasks are small and easy to do to prevent adding more barriers for students. Each of the tasks corresponds with a different year.
For first year students, the task is to visit the Career Center and learn about the resources it offers. For second year students, the task is to build a resume and a cover letter with a staff member at the Career Center. For third year students, it is starting to research post-grad plans. For fourth year students it is to conduct two informational interviews.
“We’re hoping our students through this program will be reminded that things don’t naturally happen, and then we have to work towards them,” Zhang said.
The mentorship program facilitates monthly communication between students and their mentor, along with any questions or doubts that the mentees have about college or life after college.
“I think the feedback that I’ve gotten from across campus has been really positive. The alums have said they wish that this program would have existed when they were here. So hopefully our current students will take advantage of it,” Zhang said.
She also asked that staff or faculty members interested in being a part of the First-Generationship Mentorship Program please reach out to IME.
“We have a ton of mentors who’ve expressed interest. So we’re really just waiting for our first gen-students to come to us saying they’re wanting this mentor,” Zhang said.
Students can sign up through a google form by answering questions designed to pair them with the best possible mentor.
Zhang also expressed her hopes that first-generation college students will also take advantage of both the First-Generation Mentorship Program and IME’s other mentoring program, Great Expectations, which focuses on peer mentorship.
“Because you never know, your peer mentor might be able to help you with one thing, but your first-gen mentor might be able to help you with something else,” said Zhang.