Created by Mikki Hornstein, 2012-2013 2012-2013 Career Advising Fellow
S.M.A.R.T stands for Student Mentors Advising Rising Talent and is a peer mentoring program run through the Multicultural Center. Upper-class peer mentors work with first-year students of diverse or multicultural backgrounds to ease the transition from high school to college, both socially and academically. Intentional programming is in place for the mentors to advise first-year students on identity development during the fall semester, and career development during the spring semester. I know that I geeked-out on student retention theory in the College Coffee post that I wrote in September so I won’t repeat all of that, but this program is designed as a response to those theories. Not only does the S.M.A.R.T. program help students get acclimated to Elon University, if we think about the theory and how the program is run, it should also lead to an increase in first-year student retention and overall graduation rates.
I’ve been working with the S.M.A.R.T. mentors for a couple of weeks now and I am enjoying learning the dynamics of the group. As the Program Coordinator, I am present at weekly mentor meetings and other S.M.A.R.T. events. I will be working with Ross Wade to implement the spring career development curriculum for the first-year students, and I will also design and implement a year-long Mentor Investment Series which will focus on the personal and professional development of the mentors.
Jumping into this role mid-year has been challenging since I missed all of the mentors’ orientation to the program but luckily, I’ve got a great support team. I work directly with Melissa Jordan, Associate Director of the Multicultural Center; Ross Wade, Assistant Director of Career Services (School of Communications); and Candice Blacknall, my awesome Student Program Coordinator. Additionally, Garry Morgan, now the Diversity Program Assistant at NC State University, left some great notes and research from when he was in this role, which has been incredibly helpful.
I’m eager to continue to build meaningful relationships with the mentors and support them as they work with their first-year students. Be sure to look out for more updates on my work with the S.M.A.R.T. program as the academic year progresses.