Sunday, July 17, 2022

By Suzanne Pender

SETTLING into university life is easier than ever thanks to an initiative in SETU, where current students become peer mentors to help guide first years through their college experience.

The initiative came into effect two years ago and saw student volunteer ‘peer mentors’ from all departments coming out in force to join the programme. The programme offers a variety of experiences, from being involved in orientation, welcoming first-year students, providing guidance and support, working at university events and receiving mentorship from peer support officer Mary Boylan and the university’s student services department.

It can be a daunting time for students of all ages heading into college for the first time. The peer mentor programme was developed to gap the bridge between secondary school and university life to ensure all incoming students, or for those who are returning to education, make an easy transition to the university way of life.

“There have been a few cases where new students were shy, unsure if they had picked the right course, and were finding it hard to make friends or just settle into college life,” said peer support officer Mary Boylan.

“Our peer mentors’ role is not only to be a signpost for services and support but can also be to identify students who are struggling, need support or just need a friend and help that student to settle in. The programme has been a huge success, with many first-year students benefiting from the initiative,” she added.

This year’s volunteers have gained valuable experience for their CVs and made a lot of friends with whom they may never have crossed paths.

They also represented the university at the recent launch of the Southeast Technological University by minister Simon Harris and assisted at the first-ever intervarsity athletics event in the university’s South Sport Campus. They were also very involved in graduation ceremonies and helped in making the graduates’ day a memorable experience.

“The peer mentor (P2P) programme is an all-round remarkable journey, which enhances both the first-year student experience and the volunteers experience. Peer mentors develop their leadership and team-building skills and enhance their employability skills. We are looking forward to continuing and building on the programme year on year,” said Helena Fitzgerald, head of learner support and student services.

Students who would like to become a peer mentor and get involved are asked to please contact [email protected].

 

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