Taking advantage of the beautiful fall weather, the Multicultural Peer Mentoring Program (MP2) visited the North Star Orchard in Westmoreland, N.Y., on Oct. 21, exploring the area and picking some beautiful upstate apples and pumpkins.
Founded in the fall of 2011, MP2 has connected hundreds of mentors to even more mentees. With growing numbers every year, the program currently involves 38 peer mentors, 78 peer mentees, and three Head Peer Mentors who are responsible for guiding the group and organizing activities.
Though the program focuses on first-year international, first-generation, and historically underrepresented students as mentees, any new students are welcome. Typically, invitations are sent in the summer to find mentees while mentors must go through an interview and training process during the year before. Both share their personal and academic interests in order to find compatible partners.
As the director of MP2, Associate Dean of Students for Multicultural Affairs Allen Harrison has seen the growth of the program since its inception. With the help of his student staff, he hopes that they can maintain and sustain student interest and engagement throughout the academic year. In addition to group meals with food from restaurants in the area, the program also hosts informal information sessions with different faculty and multiple off-campus trips.
“I think the social transition and sense of belonging for the first-year student populations that we serve can be challenging. So connecting students early on to students who experienced the same challenges not long ago is key,” Harrison said when describing the importance of the MP2 program.
Additionally, he mentioned the group’s diversity and the benefits of having matched pairings of mentors and mentees. “Often, students end up bonding with others who they wouldn't ordinarily connect with, especially early on in their college careers,” Harrison commented. “This hopefully enhances their individual college experiences (socially and academically) as well as the campus environment as a whole.”
The visit to the orchard was one of many off-campus trips the group planned to take this semester, including a visit to Destiny USA in Syracuse and a Broadway show in Utica, which they enjoyed in September.