Peer mentors eager to greet incoming students on campus this fall

Kate Shaffer ’19 is keen to pay it forward

As a freshman, Kate valued the support and guidance she received from both peer and faculty mentors. Her peer mentors helped her thrive both socially and academically, offering support and advice and encouraging her to get involved on campus.

“My first year my mentors had a large impact on my life and my education,” says Kate, a nursing major minoring in leadership studies and psychology.

When Dominican’s new students arrive in August, Kate will be one of 28 new peer mentors on hand to help ease the transition to college.
The role of mentor suits Kate. At San Ramon Valley High School she participated in multiple medical volunteering programs and, when she was 16, began working in a nursing home. It was Dominican’s focus on community that appealed to Kate the moment she stepped foot on campus.

“The nursing faculty and staff were so welcoming, and I felt that they wanted to have me here in their program,” Kate says

Dominican’s peer mentors are part of a larger network of support designed by the University’s Integrative Coaching program to ease the transition to college and ensure all students establish meaningful connections across campus and in the greater community.  The network also includes faculty and alumni mentors; academic advisors; career services staff; and integrative coaches – specially trained members of staff who will guide new students toward the many academic, social, and career resources available at Dominican.

“Our goal is to make sure that all new students are connected and involved from day one,” says Dr. Ashley Finley, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs & Dean of The Dominican Experience.

“We are creating a team of support that will ensure all our students will have access to all our advisory services, including career and internship services, academic support, financial aid, study abroad, and social support,” Finley says.

Integrative Coaching is a core component of The Dominican Experience – Dominican’s distinctive model for student learning and success designed to ensure all Dominican students build close relationships with faculty, receive personalized coaching, develop meaningful relationships with community partners, pursue self-directed work, and create a digital record of their work.

This summer, the integrative coaches are reaching out to all incoming students to determine how best to serve the students when they arrive on campus. These coaches include Naomi Elvove, director of Academic Advising and Achievement, Christina Mayes, digital portfolio specialist and first-year advisor, and Cheramie Leo, an integrative coach who works with students entering the pre-occupational therapy program.

“We want to talk with all new students so that we can answer their questions and determine if there is anything extra we need to do to help them adjust to college life,” Elvove says.  “This is all about helping a student get an immediate sense of belonging and letting them know we are here to help.”

About half of all first-year students also will be participating in a pilot program for a 10-week “Mastering College” course led by the peer mentors and the integrative coaches. The course is designed to encourage students to explore their own values, develop self-confidence, create goals, and gain a network of friends.

Throughout the freshman and sophomore years, the integrative coaches and peer mentors will help students develop an education plan, identify co-curricular opportunities, and begin a digital portfolio. Beginning with the junior year, the coaches will help students shift their focus to developing a career plan to be included in their digital portfolio. Students will be introduced to career mentors and they will curate their digital portfolios with the goal of securing internships and jobs.

“Making students feel welcome and encouraging them to be the best they can be is how I would measure my success,” Kate says.
This is the philosophy she’ll take into her mentoring sessions, and she just might inspire a first-year student to one day become a peer mentor.

 

July 17, 2017