Public Affairs

Lessons Learned from Our Peers

SDSU Peer Mentors Marcela Meave and Carlos Quintero address a symposium of outreach staff from across the CSU system
SDSU Peer Mentors Marcela Meave and Carlos Quintero address a symposium of outreach staff from across the CSU system.

July 1, 2011
By Erik Fallis

At the San Diego State University Peer Mentoring Program Symposium of June 27, two examples of peer learning were on display. In the first instance, students from SDSU described how they approached their responsibility to lead fellow students to success both before and after transferring to the CSU campus from a community college. Simultaneously, campus outreach staff from across the system shared their own experiences of fully engaging current undergraduate students in the advising and mentoring process.

The ability to learn and adopt best practices from the experience of others is one of the advantages of being a campus within a university system of 23. In growing the skills of both mentors and mentees, practices do not get much better than the SDSU Peer Mentoring Program. The goal of the Peer Mentoring collaboration is to increase transfer and graduation rates among participants from Southwestern Community College and San Diego City College.

Making the program possible is support from a Kresge SEMILLAS grant, federal work-study funding and the Community Based Block Counseling Program. This support allows the SDSU Peer Mentoring Program to hire students and conduct activities throughout the year.

Student mentors are critical partners for a small staff associated with the program. A team of nine, three staff members and six students, hold workshops on community college campuses, arrange visits to SDSU and meet one-on-one with the students both at the college and university campus to discuss major concerns prospective transfer students have. The Peer Mentoring Program works in tandem with programs, including the Educational Opportunity Program, to introduce transfer students to services and support available to them for the remainder of their university experience.

Two students representing their fellow mentors were Kids2College Program Coordinator Marcela Meave and Compact Advisor Program Coordinator Carlos Quintero. These students are deeply involved in the selection and preparation of new mentors and spoke of the importance of careful hiring, training and direction in order to sustain the program. Both students faced their own challenges in moving through the education system and obtaining a college education – including language barriers, poor family finances, and struggles to find sources of support and information.

It is this experience of overcoming challenges that motivate Marcela and Carlos's efforts to ease the path for the next class of SDSU students.