After offering a pilot program that paired 115 students and alumni, the University of Georgia has opened the sign-up period for students to partake in an alumni-student initiative, the UGA Mentor Program.
The program allows undergraduate, graduate and professional students to form mentoring relationships with alumni — regardless of geographic location — through a digital platform.
Jeremy Daniel, the associate director of the program, said the program will transform the student experience at UGA by “providing students an opportunity to connect with experienced alumni in their preferred field of choice.”
“Students have complete autonomy and choice in requesting the mentor based on their needs and their goals,” Daniel said. “It’s not the UGA Mentor Program making decisions and matching people, the students request a mentor.”
The program's website allows students to connect with alumni based on their major, interests, and location. Additionally, students can connect with alumni based on similarities of being first generation college students, transfer students, sexual orientation and experience in foster care, Daniel said.
Communication is first established on the programs website, which hosts a messaging platform that allows students and alumni to communicate while protecting their personal information. Once a mentorship relationship is established, students and alumni can communicate in person, via text message, email or phone. Students and alumni commit one to two hours per month for 16 weeks.
LeBria Casher, a senior English and comparative literature major from Douglasville who participated in the pilot program, said she and her mentor talked about a wide variety of topics from what she can do with her degree to women in the workplace.
“She was there to talk to me and support me with my goals and how I wanted to plan everything out,” Casher said.
According to the UGA Mentor Program’s website, the goal of the program is to “support students in developing their personal and professional networks with UGA alumni,” and “provide an avenue for students to explore professional goals, career interests and workplace preferences.”
“It’s completely up to [the mentee] if they want to use the program to network, have someone to talk to or meet someone in your field to see what their life is like,” Casher said.
UGA alumnus and professor at the Department of Lifelong Education, Administration, and Policy at the College of Education, Laura L. Bierema, compared the program’s electronic matching to that of Match.com, where the mentor can explain where they have expertise and what their interests are, and the mentee can search through their choices. Bierema participated in the pilot program in January and said, “The system seems to work very well.”
“There’s a process of getting to know each other and finding out what the interests of the mentee are, and how we can work together to help them meet their goals is the initial conversation,” Bierema said.
Currently, more than 1,300 alumni have signed up to mentor students, Daniel said. To be eligible, students can create a profile on mentor.uga.edu and will be required to attend an orientation session.