Students Helping Students

by Rachel Remington

Horizon Reporter

For students who feel like they’re falling behind in school, as well as those who have succeeded and want to help others, the new peer mentoring program at Whatcom Community College might be the perfect opportunity for them to get what they need.

The program aims to give support to students who may be in danger of failing classes, or students in the transitional learning courses, such as the adult basic education program, who are having a hard time moving forward with their college education.   A number of students will be recruited to be trained as mentors.

Mentors, mostly students who have completed the transitional learning courses, can share their experiences with struggling students, said Katie Heizenrader, director of the program, and a retention project coordinator from Americorps.  Retention project coordinators go to colleges and universities to recruit students to become mentors for students who need guidance. 

Heizenrader has been at Whatcom for about two months so far, and has been working with other faculty to make an effective mentoring program.  “This quarter is all about developing and getting people interested,” said Heizenrader.

Along with developing the program, Heizenrader has been trying to get the word out to students interested in becoming mentors.  The mentors will go through training, and will commit to helping a student in need for at least four hours a month for an entire quarter.

Heizenrader said she wants students to get to know one another and be able to learn from each other’s experiences.  She also hopes students will learn their own strengths through the program, and understand that there is support to help them succeed. 

The experience of being a mentor can be very rewarding as well, she said.  Mentors develop crucial skills in leadership, learn to inspire other students through education, and have an “increased understanding of how a college education can benefit both them and their communities,” states the Washington Campus Compact web site.

Beginning in mid-October, there will be a number of informational meetings regarding the program, and at the end of the quarter there will be an orientation for eligible mentors to begin training.  The goal for the program is to attain about 20 qualifying mentors.  “I’m really excited to see what happens,” said Heizenrader.

If you’re interested in becoming a mentor for the program, or want to join to get guidance for moving ahead in school, you can contact Katie Heizenrader, the project coordinator, at:

Office phone: (360)-383-3068

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