New students matched with mentors to ease transition

Hilltop Mentors is one of many first-year programs put on by the Transitional Experiences Council, a Student Life organization aimed at making every type of college transition an easy one.

Formed over five years ago, Hilltop Mentors matches freshman, transfer and international students with their own mentors, who may be upperclassmen, staff or faculty. The mentor-mentee pairs have regular meetings throughout the semester, during which the mentor gives the mentee valuable advice about how to successfully transition into college life.

“The basic idea is that new students are coming in, and we offer both incoming freshmen and also incoming transfer students a faculty, staff or upperclassmen mentor that can just help them understand how things work here,” Associate Director of Student Life Marisa Lacey said.

In the past, the program lasted a full year, but now it is only a semester-long commitment. During the semester, mentees are encouraged to attend workshops to learn about time management, goal-setting, campus resources and campus involvement among other things, all while meeting regularly with their mentor.

“The expectation for the mentor-mentee is that they get together at least once every other week,” Lacey said. “Some get together more often.”

Samantha Mendoza, a senior and the president of Student Government Association, has mentored two students.

“I think it was a really great experience both for me and my mentee because I felt like we both really learned from each other a lot,” Mendoza said.

Students first sign up to become a mentor or mentee on the Hilltop Mentors on Student Life’s website.

“The students will fill out an application and it will tell us what their interests are, their major, what they look for in a mentor/mentee and vice versa,” Nathalie Equiza, the executive coordinator of the Transitional Experiences Council, said. “From there, we go in and look at all the things that they listed out and then we try to pick and match them with the person that best fits them.”

After the matching process is complete, the Transitional Experiences Council kicks off the semester with a Hilltop Mentors group dinner.

“We give [mentors and mentees] the chance to meet each other, and a current mentor talks about their experience and what helped them,” Lacey said.

Through Hilltop Mentors, members encourage growth and development while fostering community engagement. The program is one of the many ways that students, faculty and staff can maximize their time spent here at St. Edward’s University.

“I think I was able to give them so much advice and so much guidance just because I’ve been through everything they’ve been through in the past, and so I think I was just able to make them feel a little bit calmer, connect them in different resources and give them people to talk to so that they could have a smoother transition and just feel more prepared to go into their second year,” Mendoza said.

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