Mission I'm Possible: Mentee Day 2014
The University of the Western Cape's (UWC) Centre for Student Support Services (CSSS) held its fourth annual Mentee Day in April 2014, under the theme Mission: I'm Possible. Mentorship can make all the difference to a successful student career – and who better to mentor students than other students?
Mentee Day is a student engagement programme that enables student mentors and mentees to interact and deepen their relationship with each other and with the campus. Mentee Day 2014 saw a mixture of individually driven and team-building activities. Students were divided into different groups and had to compete for the ultimate prize – the glory of victory, and the flash drives that came along with it.
Activities were made as challenging as possible, and it took a lot of mental and physical perseverance to successfully complete each activity. The message was clear to all students: you can achieve anything you put your mind to – especially with the support of peers.
Mentee Day is part of the Peer Mentoring Programme (PMP), a broad-based campus-wide first year support and development programme that utilises the expertise of successful senior students to mentor first year students across all faculties. Dr Birgit Schreiber, Director of CSSS, explains: “The best way to enable integration of our first year students is to ensure that they have meaningful relationships with their seniors, who function as mentors and role models, guiding them through the beginning of their academic careers.”
The PMP has grown by leaps and bounds since its beginnings in 2007, and now supports close to a thousand first year students, with about 200 mentors from 5 faculties. It not only helps students adjust to university life, but also helps them to develop trusting relationships with each other, with the support and development of professional staff.
“Research shows that if you can retain first year students, then their chances of graduating are greater than those who have dropped out and come back,” says Laetitia Permall, manager of the Academic Support Office in the CSSS.
Evaluation after Mentee Day indicated that students thoroughly enjoyed the event and appreciated the interaction with other students they might not normally speak to.
One mentee praised the interaction between mentees and mentors: “It was so much fun interacting with the different mentors – including some that I haven't seen or spoken to before.”
“The activities were all exciting,” another mentee said. “It gave me a great opportunity to get to know some of the other students better.”
“After every successful Mentee Day, it is always difficult to match it the following year,” says Dr Schreiber, “but luckily we have an amazing group of students and staff who are ready to come up with something fresh and different. We're really looking forward to Mentee Day 2015.”
For more information on how to join the CSSS Peer Mentoring Programme, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, or call the Centre for Student Support Services at 021 959 2299.