By Elizabeth Carter

Starting this semester, a group of SPIA Student Ambassadors have started a Peer Mentorship Program for SPIA students. The purpose of the program is to facilitate relationships between more experienced older students and first- and second-years who are eager to learn from the experiences and opportunities that their mentors have had.

Chloe Hamby, Emily Haynie, Candice Lee, Christina Matacotta, Zack Ziegler, and I have developed the program, its materials, and hosted orientation meetings since August, and we hope to continue the program each semester on the foundation we have created. We were inspired to start the program by the Honors Program’s PAL Mentorship Program that is open to all majors, and we wanted to ensure that SPIA students, Honors or not, had access to the same support.

For the inaugural semester of the program, which is taking place now, we received 80 applications for mentees and 50 applications for mentors. With expectations of 20-30 mentors and mentees each, we were astounded and are eager to watch the program grow in future semesters. Most mentors are matched with two mentees due to the overwhelming reply from first- and second-years, and the pairs were created based on the answers applicants gave, including majors, minors, certificate programs, and special interests.

SPIA provided refreshments for the two orientation meetings that we hosted to facilitate the first meetings of mentors and mentees, and those who were not able to come were updated via email. There were even two mentors who applied and will be mentoring their mentees remotely from Atlanta and D.C. where they are living for their internships.

Soon, we will begin to identify interest among current mentors for participation in directing future semesters of the program as some of those currently directing are seniors. We hope that this program will continue to see the success it is seeing now, that it will strengthen the network of SPIA students, and will make their time here the most impactful it can be.