Broward College mentoring program provides guidance to students in need

Ryan Marin

Staff Writer

College can be a culture shock. For the first time, students have complete control over what classes they take, what days they have class, and how often they attend those classes. 

With this comes a multitude of challenges; students often struggle with managing their time effectively and maintaining the high level of self-motivation needed to succeed. They may also lose their circle of friends, becoming isolated, and lack the knowledge of the resources that colleges offer to support them. 

Understanding these challenges, Broward College has developed a Peer Mentorship and Leadership program to help students face them head on.

The Peer Mentoring and Leadership Program is designed to provide students with the support and resources needed to succeed at Broward College. The program has partnered with PeerForward, an organization that selects and trains Broward College students to become peer mentors. 

Mentors are also AmeriCorps members that help students along with the greater Broward College community, and many are in prestigious initiatives within the college. Recently, mentors have been on campus as part of the Seahawk Marketplace student food distribution on North, Central and South campus, helping with the drive-thru to provide students with food and produce during these challenging times. The mental health and wellness of mentors and mentees is prioritized through frequent communication and feedback.

Student mentors help student mentees navigate the college experience and establish a support system supplemented with available resources so that their mentees are successful in college. Mentees learn from the experiences of their mentors and others, build friendships, develop their study and communication skills, and build a support system based on encouragement, personal growth and positivity.

Despite the program having only been around for two years, it has been extremely successful. According to Farah Pierre, director of the program, over 800 students have taken part in the program. Students in the program also only withdrew from 3 percent of their classes and had an 83 percent success rate in their courses during the Fall 2020 semester.

With the transition to online learning due to COVID-19, the program had to transition to remote service. According to Marta Bautista, Coordinator of the program, the program transitioned seamlessly, and despite encountering some challenges, such as program leaders not having easy access to interacting with students, the positives have outweighed the negatives. 

Technology provided more flexibility for students, allowing them to meet on video conferencing platforms and provided possibilities that are more easily executed virtually. Students can also be connected nationally and internationally, allowing students to mentor and learn from others they might not have had access to pre-COVID.

In a virtual event last fall designed to celebrate the program and the spirit of mentorship, mentors and mentees attested to how much the program has helped them. Mentee Agustin Gonzalez said, “Help comes in when you need it the most. I am glad I have someone by my side that will see things through my eyes.” 

Gonzalez’s mentor, Ashawn Nicolas, said, “It’s not only the words that you use, but the actions that show you really care.” Mentee Andre Smith said of his mentor, “Spencer has taught me that working at your own pace will always lead to success.”

Students that want to become a mentee can sign up at www.broward.edu/mentoring. The program is free to join, and the sign-up is simple: complete a quick intake form that matches students up with a peer mentor. 

Students interested in mentoring fellow students can join the program during the peer leader recruitment period in Summer 2021 and can visit the website linked above to learn more about the requirements.