» Promising Futures Mentoring Program

The Promising Futures Mentoring Program was piloted during the 2011-2012 year for the first time to get current first-generation students connected to a faculty/staff mentor that they could use as a source of support especially for our freshman first-generation college students in transitioning in to Chapman University and navigating their way through the higher education system. In the 2012-2013 academic year, 45 students were matched with mentors and look forward to continuing this program in the future. Some of the feedback we have received from students about their experiences is:

  • I feel more confident that I can actually make it through college
  • My mentor makes me feel very comfortable and she's always providing me with guidance and advice and I know I have someone to listen to my problems and help me utilize the resources at Chapman
  • It is so nice to have someone on campus to be a supporter and friend to me. My mentor was really interested in getting to know me and I appreciated that.
  • It is a great idea to give us, first generation students, mentors. I love having the connections and resources to further aid my college career since I cannot depend on my parents for that.

Mentors have also benefited from this experience as well:

  • I’ve benefited by having an opportunity to further develop my coaching/counseling skills and developing a personal connection with a new student I might otherwise not have met
  • It is extremely gratifying to be able to help, to give, and to learn about the successes of a student who has the desire and talent to succeed
  • It’s helped me to consider what some of the other students I work with may be going through as well, and helped me to be a better resource as I have worked with her to find the resources she needs at the moment

Here are some pictures of mentor/mentee pairs from last year:

Mentor      Mentor

Mentee Lisette Martinez with Mentor Dr. Cris Giannantonio     Mentor Leti Wyatt with Mentee Alyssa Caban

Mentor      Mentor

Mentor Vanessa Rosella with Mentee Angelica Lepe               Mentee Derrick Ortega with Mentor Dr. Jan Osborn

+ - Mentoring Program Information

Goals of the Mentoring Program:

  • To guide and support first-generation college students (the first in their family to pursue a bachelor’s degree) at Chapman University
  • To help students develop and achieve their academic goals
  • To help students feel connected to Chapman by being matched with a staff/faculty mentor who can help them navigate and make the most out of their experiences at Chapman
  • To assist in the retention of first-generation college students at Chapman

Student Mentee Responsibilities and Benefits:

  • Attend an information session on the mentoring process - date/time/location to be announced
  • Maintain regular contact and communication with your mentor
  • Use mentor support to make a smooth transition into university life and excel academically
  • Become knowledgeable in utilizing campus resources to facilitate your success at Chapman
  • Gain experience in working one-on-one with a supportive member of the university community

Mentoring Program Guidelines

  • Mentors and mentees will meet at least three times each semester and attend mentor/mentee group activities (once a semester)
  • Mentors and mentees will provide feedback on their experiences and evaluation of the mentoring program one time each semester
  • Mentors and mentees agree to a year-long commitment
  • Mentors and mentees will contact Promising Futures Program staff at any time with any questions or concerns

+ - Tips from our Mentors for current First-Generation College Students at Chapman

This is some helpful advice/insight that has been compiled when connecting with our Promising Futures Program mentors who were also first-generation college students themselves! These mentors are dedicated to supporting your success and as fellow first-generation students they can also share in your experiences! We hope you can use this as a resource and source of guidance! J

What would you identify as your biggest obstacle when you were in college?

  • Finances were the largest obstacle. Many students were able to engage in popular college experiences (study abroad, join greek life, live on campus, etc.) and it was hard not to feel left out because my family could not afford such expenses.  I received a scholarship, but no one informed me that Chapman increases their tuition every year and does not increase the scholarship. My first year was covered (I thought that would be the case every year), and I had to take loans every year after to make up the difference. In addition I felt that I never had proper advice/mentorship from Chapman. The simplest things from not knowing I had to buy books to learning how to substitute GE requirements with my major classes were huge lessons for me not easily obtained.
  • Bad academic habits, going to class without mom to hound me, confidence to speak up in class, learning to be on my own, finances
  • I was a first-generation student as well, so I always felt like my parents didn’t understand how the system worked and they weren’t very helpful when deciding which major to have and classes to take.
  • Having to work and go to school simultaneously.  Knowing what I wanted to study and what I wanted to do after college.
  • Balancing 3 jobs, having my family understand the need for me to be a student, financial burden
  • My biggest obstacle was not having a well-developed understanding of the goals I wanted to achieve while in college. As I entered, it was just another “next step” in my life and I hadn’t thought very intentionally about what I wanted to get out of it.
  • My parents never experienced what it takes to get into college and could not give guidance. All through high school I was on my own when it came to solving my homework.
  • Not really understanding the culture of school, what people were looking for and how to be successful. I felt as if everyone else knew what to do except me and often doubted I belonged in college. 

What helped you succeed?

  • “Tag-teaming” with fellow first gens proved to be most helpful. Between 2-3 of us we would piece together information to formulate answers. Sometimes older students and peers would offer their advice on professors, classes and textbooks that would be most useful in the survival of college. A lot of this information proved to be very valuable.
  • Having high personal and parental expectations as a motivator
  • Perseverance, finding people that can help me get back on track and find my passion
  • I developed a tight network of counselors, professors, and friends who cared about my success and followed up with me when I was getting off track and motivated me to stay in school
  • Supportive friends, the fact that I knew a degree would help me in any career path I chose, I felt like I did not want to fail.
  • Peer support, great work study jobs, and stable roommates
  • As for college generally, I think I succeeded by having a small group of good friends and by focusing intently on doing well.  I also think that early on, I found a core of confidence.
  • Faculty who saw in me what I did not see in myself; taking it semester by semester, just a sense of keep moving and hard work
  • I loved learning new things and was committed to showing up to class each day and making it a priority
  • Drive, determination and everyone telling me that I couldn’t and wouldn’t finish college. I’m fueled by proving people wrong.
  • Because my family could barely afford to pay for 3 years of college, I took extra classes in order to complete my undergraduate degree in just 3 years. I was very disciplined with my study time and limited my social activities to 1 night a week + meal times in the cafeteria.  Socially, I was extremely shy when I started college, so during my freshman year, I challenged myself to meet a new person in the cafeteria every morning and have a conversation. At first this was difficult and I felt awkward, but after a few weeks, I made some great friendships, enjoyed dozens of interesting conversations, and became more outgoing.
  • My involvements outside of the classroom in campus leadership opportunities (and the advisors/supervisors that came with them) helped me find a purpose for my time in college and challenged me to think more critically and intentionally about learning, both inside and outside of the classroom.
  • Passion and drive. I wanted better, so when things got tough I pushed forward. I showed up and attended class even when I was totally lost.
  • A very good planner and good organization skills
  • My tenacity and professors that pushed me beyond my comfort zone
  • Ambition and being focused
  • My family taught me how to work hard. I found that not everyone did so and by working harder than others I could accomplish anything.  At first it was like treading water, always afraid of drowning, but then I began to learn to work smarter, added to hard work, it turned out to be a good combination.  Mentors helped me learn how to work smarter and to point out good options for me to pursue, smart options.
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Interested in getting involved in our mentoring program?

If you are a Chapman faculty/staff member and are interested in being added to our mentor volunteer list please contact us for more information at: firstgen@chapman.edu

If you are a current Chapman student that has not yet been involved with our mentoring program and are interested in being matched with a mentor please contact us for more information at: firstgen@chapman.edu

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