Building relationships, understanding
Celebrating its eighth year, the University of Idaho Women’s Center Mentoring Program provides an important service to the Moscow and campus communities, and implements concepts that aren’t standard to most mentoring systems, program coordinator Paige Davies said.
The program uses a network system, which differs from standard one-on-one mentoring relationships. The premise behind the network system is to have a well-rounded, community-oriented experience based on interacting and learning from more than one person. Davies said this system helps members understand their community better and build relationships with their peers and role models. She said the network system also has academic benefits as the mentee receives multiple inputs and methods instead of the standard single point of view.
“The one-on-one method kind of causes the mentee to become a mini-me of the mentor and is more hierarchical,” Davies said. “The networking system is more focused on an equal relationship, is more personalized, and allows everyone involved to learn from each other.”
The mentoring program also requires new recruits to attend a three-credit course — Introduction to 316, also known as Psychology 317 — taught by Davies and Women’s Center Director Heather Shea Gasser. The course is geared toward helping undergraduates progress as mentors within the community, and to learn how to mentor more efficiently.
Mentors receive a $100 scholarship for being involved in the program. They also have the opportunity to enroll in a one-credit course for continued involvement. There are many pros to being a mentor, Davies said, but that’s not the main focus of volunteers.
“The mentors are really committed. Many of them are extremely passionate about what they do and always want to help out their fellow students and community,” she said. “The volunteers rarely ever do this just to fill out a credit requirement.”
Davies has been trying to push for broader involvement within the community.
“We always get a great response for mentoring from the university staff and older students, which is great, but we’d also like to get the word out to the outside community,” she said.
The applications for the 2012-2013 school year have already been turned in, but the application for next year will be available in the spring.
“During the spring we start putting out calls and emails for mentors and mentees … there will definitely be that opportunity for anyone who’s interested,” Davies said.
Derek Kowatsch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org