Freshman year—for some, it is known as a challenging transition; for others, it is a smooth experience.
Last year, my transitional experience at Wittenberg was the former. Because of that, I love working first-hand with the freshmen as a peer mentor. In the past, a peer mentor has worked with the WittSem, but with the new curricula, a faculty member, professor, and peer mentor meet with new students once a week for a separate course called the First Year Seminar, focusing each week on a new college skill using the ever-so-famous College Rules! as the guide.
In addition, the peer mentor gets an office hour each week to meet with the students outside of the classroom environment. However, over the last three weeks, I have found that being a peer mentor is not only about forming lasting relationships within the classroom environment, but the small things that occur outside the classroom as well.
Just getting to see a student pass me and talk for a brief moment on the way to class sparks a smile. In addition, I have seen the students getting involved in several activities to which I belong. I am sharing the stage with a fellow theater major this fall, choreographing alongside some fabulous dancers, watching several display their talents in the annual Freshman Showcase, and joining some to worship at Cru and Newman Club. This is by no means a full listing, but as a member of these groups, I have had a first-hand account of these students getting actively involved. I feel that having this relationship extend beyond the discussions in class really allows for a bond to form between the peer mentor and the student, a friendship, which I treasured myself last year.
Many people have asked me what it means to be a peer mentor. I view my job as a way to impart knowledge that I discovered along my rough freshman first semester. I consider it a chance to prevent similar mistakes I made and to be there if some of the more horrible things such as loss, illness, and injury occur.
Furthermore, as a sophomore, I look forward to seeing these students grow up. I know it sounds silly — since quite a few of them are actually older than I am — but these bonds can last three years. In my mind, some of them are already headed down a path to stardom in the arts, sciences, and beyond.
I fully appreciate how the First Year Seminar cradles what it means to be on a liberal arts campus. Being a peer mentor means the world to me, and I hope to continue the position in the years to come. Many fail to comprehend the struggles of a freshman, and living everyday alongside of them them keeps me in the freshman’s shoes. Everyday, I feel like I discover a new luxury that Wittenberg provides. I love being a peer mentor, because the First Year Seminar is a place to foster growth, promote acceptance, learn college behavior, and, most of all, form a second family.