Peer mentors lead students to success



Student Reporter

While most students attend classes to learn skills and gain knowledge, some Amarillo College students are going to class to learn how to help their classmates learn. They are training to be peer mentors for the First Year Seminar class—a course that prepares new students to succeed in college.

“The peer mentors are a group of Amarillo College students who function as leaders within the First Year Seminar,” Amy Pifer, the First Year Experience director, said. “These are students who are hand selected by each faculty member and provide the insider’s view to life at the college.” 

Pifer said that the peer mentors challenge students with new ideas, and encourage them to move beyond the things that are most comfortable. Most peer mentors are picked for their sensibility, confidence, social skills and reliability.

“These peer mentors participate as active members of each course, bridging the gap between student and faculty members and providing useful information, guidance, and support to our newest students,” said Pifer. “Mentoring at-risk college students is essentially to improve academic achievement, improve interpersonal skills and for personal development.”

Madison Shows is training to become a peer mentor. She said peer mentoring involves a reciprocal relationship of mutual benefits to both the student and mentor to help first-time college students experience a smooth transition to college and empower at risk students.

“These last two weeks of mentoring have been going very smoothly for me, and I feel as if my peer mentoring gears are finally revving up as I’m starting to understand how to be successful,” Shows said. “One of the advantages of having a peer mentor is to fully utilize the best traits in students in order to reach the underlying goal most efficiently. To allow someone else to do something you’re weak in doesn’t make you inferior, it makes you smart for realizing the goal would be better obtained that way. Being a peer mentor allowed me to be a leader in many situations, while also giving me a sense of what it’s like to work as a unit and help others.”

Pifer said that peer mentoring has been shown to positively influence college student’s achievement and increase student retention at institutions, particularly among at-risk college students.

Dalton Peoples, another First Year Seminar peer mentor in training, said the mentoring relationship helps the new students, the mentors and the instructors. “In particular, peer mentoring provides a strong system of support as teachers seek to implement new strategies, examine practices, transfer skills and put in-service learning in action,” Peoples said. “Peer mentoring promotes the teacher’s growth and development. Moreover, it leverages face to face interaction, thus, promoting relationship building and strong collegiality towards collective improvement and institutional effectiveness.”

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