Leadership Development Enhances Peer Mentor Experience at Guttman

August 21, 2013 | Student Event

Peer Mentors during their two-day retreat at Camp Linwood MacDonald in New Jersey.

Peer Mentors during their two-day retreat at Camp Linwood MacDonald in New Jersey.

The Peer Mentor Program is a hallmark of the academic and student life experience at Guttman Community College. Peer Mentors are current students who have completed at least one year at Guttman or another CUNY community or senior college. The program held its first two week Mentor Leadership Development (MLD) program for new and returning Peer Mentors on campus August 5-13, 2013, including a two-day off-site retreat at Camp Linwood MacDonald in Branchville, New Jersey. The goals of MLD are to provide Peer Mentors with the essential skills to be successful by establishing a network of support, developing critical thinking and life and decision-making skills and instilling a sense of social justice through community building activities.

The on-campus section of MLD featured foundational training. It included developing and sustaining mentoring relationships with students, effectively utilizing the ePortfolio system, and creating strategies for building an inclusive campus community. Each morning began with Lead Peer Mentors directing ice-breaker sessions to develop skills valuable to team building as well as model effective activities for mentors to use throughout their mentoring appointment. Guest speakers from different parts of the College such as the Office of Admissions & Access and the Provost addressed the group throughout the training sessions. Dr. Clayton Drinko, a leading expert on the cognitive science and psychology of improvisation, was the opening keynote speaker. Using interactive improvisation activities, Dr. Drinko explored areas of health, wellness, relationships, work and everyday social interactions. At the end of each day Peer Mentors completed evaluations to reflect on what they learned and experienced.

A highlight of the MLD program was the two-day retreat at Camp Linwood MacDonald. Being off campus helped Peer Mentors connect with one another in new, meaningful ways. Team-building activities included navigating a low ropes course and walking over a series of logs. Attendees also practiced approaching various mentoring situations they would likely encounter during the Summer Bridge program and Fall semester.  

“The MLD program gave Peer Mentors an exceptional opportunity to bond with one another, meet new faculty and staff and to develop core competencies to be effective mentors to Guttman’s first-year and continuing students,” noted Daniel Ambrose, Associate Director for Mentoring and Student Success.

Peer Mentors work between 12-15 hours per week and participate in ongoing Mentor Leadership Development sessions throughout the academic year. At Guttman Community College, there are three types of Peer Mentors: Leadership & Service Peer Mentors (LSPMs) who engage students in campus life by planning and implementing a variety of student-centered workshops and activities to foster a sense of social responsibility and provide ongoing guidance and programmatic support to the Student Government Association (SGA) and emerging student organizations; Admissions & Access Peer Mentors (AAPMs) who provide prospective students with a clear understanding of the Guttman Community College experience and guide them through our unique admissions process; and Academic Success Peer Mentors (ASPMs) who assist students in areas including study skills, test taking skills, time management, organization, syllabus comprehension and general academic competencies by role modeling positive academic practices and sharing personal strategies for success.

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