Wendy Alemán Sp 2006 practicum journalDiscussion related to the CSSA program competencies Work on the Peer Mentoring Program began during my summer experience in theCollege Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP). At the time it was just an idea; thinkingabout it, strategizing a plan was something that was extra to the main duties of myposition at the time. In addition, I had noticed it was in the grant and that no one wasactually doing anything to make it happen. So, after many hours of research on models, Iproposed the final model. At the time, I didn’t know that I would be the person toactually make the idea a reality. It took some time to get the program going. Once wedecided that I would take the plan and move it into action, I had to figure out what thementors would do and I had to find them. So, it was a bit of a recruiting event. However,before I even got to recruiting I had to set up the training. Among things to think about inorganizing training were the objectives of the program, important information thementors need, and what defines a successful mentor relationship. After the mentors wereselected, I organized a small committee of students who knew the incoming freshman tohelp with matches. We spent a lot of time going through potential matches until we cameup with matches we all felt good about. Because there were so many variables and complexities to this experience, I reallyfelt that I met several competencies. In terms of program planning, I found it hard to findlocations to meet late in the term that would allow me to purchase cheap food. Moreover,it was very challenging to try to find times to meet for over 40 students. On top of this, Ifound it difficult, other than the first meeting, to come up with activities for matches to do
together during the meeting time. I wanted the students to get an opportunity to get toknow each other and at the same time I did not want their relationships to be forced. Asa result, some students met with each other regular whereas some matches barely saweach other. I had one match where the mentor tried so many times to get in touch withhis Mentee that he finally gave up and felt totally discouraged. He was initially the mostexcited and enthusiastic mentor and later plummeted to the least interested as a result ofthe mentee’s lack of interest in returning his calls or replying to his emails. In addition to program planning, I incorporated student development theory intomy training and my planning. During the mentor training I talked about the identitydevelop of the incoming students and talked about Vasti Torres theory of Latino identitydevelopment. I also used theory in my planning to help me determine the kind ofsupport the incoming students might need in their transition to their first year of college. While it was the first year of the program, assessment was important forunderstanding ways to improve the program for the next year. I received lots of goodfeedback in the assessment and was able to better see where the program could use moresupport or structure for the next year.Competencies or other learning outcomes that I acquired but did NOT expect to gain fromthe practicum experience:I did not expect to do too much work in the area of “Individual, Group, andOrganizational Communication” as the coordinator of the program, however, I found thatI needed to provide a lot of encouragement to some matches. In addition, I found that Ineeded a lot more support from other staff members and from other departments to makethe program successful. The program needs a lot of attention, not just to the
organizational details and logistics, but a lot more attention to the relationships whichdevelop or do not develop as a result of the match.Observations, reactions, and analyses related to your experience, compelling readings, orother points of interest as they relate to your practicum I have been thinking about what is going to happen to this program next year.Because it is part of the CAMP grant, there is no question that it must continue; however,it needs a lot more attention than 90 plus hours of practicum work. I am thinking ofproposing make the coordinator practicum into a job for an upperclass student who isfamiliar with the Latino community on campus. Ideally, a student who has experiencethe program as a mentor or a Mentee would be perfect for the position. I think that theprogram could blossom with commitment from the program and the right amount of timedevoted to developing it. Overall, it was a really nice experience to have an opportunity to get to know thecurrent students in the program. In the year that I have an opportunity to work with thesestudents, I have grown so attached to them. Even though they will all still be on campusnext year, I will miss the opportunity to work with them in the same capacity.