Emily Radell was inspired to become a peer mentor with New Mexico State University’s (NMSU) TRIO Student Support Services because of the mentors who nurtured her.
“My mentors were there to encourage me, and they helped me find resources and learn how to approach situations from a different perspective,” she said “They helped me understand that my background didn’t determine my future and that I could accomplish anything so long as I took advantage of the resources I was provided.
“My mentors gave me a new perspective on my abilities, and that’s exactly what I wanted to do for others,” said Radell, a senior majoring in English who wants to pursue a career in publishing. “I wanted to become a person for others to turn to who would listen to their struggles, provide resources, and motivate them to keep working hard just as mine did.”
Radell is one of 11 peer mentors for NMSU TRIO Student Support Services, which was awarded recertification for the College Reading and Learning Association International Peer Educator Training Program Certification, formerly known as the International Mentor Training Program Certification, in summer 2021. The program is now certified for the next five years at level three, which is the highest level possible.
Currently, two of the peer mentors are interns from the counseling and community psychology program in the College of Health, Education and Social Transformation and they work with 10 to 15 students, and the other nine peer mentors work with 30 to 45 students.
TRIO Student Support Services Mentor Coordinator Bernadine Booky said peer mentors are a vital part of a student’s college experience.
“When people think of mentors, they automatically think of an older, wiser person who has been there done that,” she said. “There is something so special about having someone who is in your shoes and able to share the same experiences, challenges and accomplishments that you are having. Someone who can relate to you not only academically but personally.
“With this certification, it ensures that our peer mentors are trained on the most needed topics and are prepared for any situation,” Booky said. “I always tell my mentors to work themselves out of a job, because when the student doesn’t need them anymore they have helped them develop skills of communication, independence and self-advocacy. They also help them become confident and motivated to succeed in anything they do.”
Radell said she believes the peer mentor program provides more than academic and professional support.
“Students need a person who can listen to them, not just hear but truly listen when they talk about themselves, their struggles and even their strengths,” Radell said. “Students need a person who is empathetic toward them and can understand the difficulties of their situations. They need a person who can make them feel comfortable.”
The TRIO Student Support Services peer mentoring program first earned its level three certification in October 2016, and has the only level three certification on campus.
“TRIO Student Support Services takes a lot of pride in personalized assistance,” Booky said. “Every student is different and has different needs. We put a lot of time and effort in to know our students and our peer staff to make sure they are paired with someone who will give them the best NMSU and TRIO experience possible. They become family and stay in touch after they all graduate. It’s such a beautiful thing to witness and be a part of.”
To learn more about the TRIO Student Support Services mentoring program, click here.
Author: Tiffany Acosta – NMSU