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Saturday, February 24, 2024

A program that aims to make life easier for underrepresented students will be adding peer mentors in the fall.

The University Minority Mentor Program is a transition program within Multicultural Diversity and Affairs. The program helps first-year undergraduate students in navigating the academic and social aspects of the university.

Jarrod Cruz, director of multicultural and diversity affairs at UF, said after entering the program the students are separated into groups called knowledge communities, which includes only students with the same or similar majors.

“The program seeks out mentors from UF’s faculty and staff from every college,” Cruz said. “Each mentor is assigned to a knowledge community that all have majors within that mentor’s college.”

In previous years, the program only searched for mentors among UF’s faculty and staff.

Having incoming students work with faculty and staff mentors may be helpful for the students academically, but it doesn’t help them with the social aspects of campus.

UF upperclassmen applied to be peer mentors on a volunteer basis during the spring. Twenty-seven of them were chosen to mentor the incoming first-year students, said Kiwanis Burr, program coordinator.

Peer mentors can assist the students with their personal and social transition into the university.

Burr said this program is meant to increase access and retention among students who are traditionally underrepresented in higher education.

“This program goes beyond just looking at mentoring as a flat relationship, where the mentor just feeds the mentee information,” Burr said. “We try to make sure that both the mentor and mentee are engaged with each other.”

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