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"You've got a friend in me"

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Mentoring of the mind

Mentoring programs enable students to navigate college life and career options with a steady support system. Life is complicated and having a mentor can help you maneuver through hardships. 

Washburn’s School of Nursing implemented a peer mentoring program in 2015 after recognizing students need external support to get through challenging course work.

According to Susan Maendele, the mentoring program coordinator and a School of Nursing lecturer, a former senior nursing student suggested the program because she wanted to help future students find support from a fellow peer. 

“The purpose of the program is to assist younger students by helping them understand how to navigate the nursing program,” said Maendele. “It helps them get through their classes, learn study [techniques] and be a helping hand.”

The mentoring program is open to all students accepted into the nursing school. 

Mentors must be at least a level two student, which means that they are in their second semester of nursing school, and the mentee can be of any level. 

“There is a big change from when you start the nursing program to when you end,” said Maendele. “The upperclassmen are [have been] through that process  [and] they’re helping the younger ones invest in their future.”

Maendele matches students based on nursing specialties, age, demographics, interests and tries to match within one level if possible -- meaning a level one will pair with a level two or level three would pair with a level four.

“If we have a non-traditional student, we try to match them with a non-traditional mentor because they will understand external stressors,” said Maendele. “We try to match them based on how they want to be matched.”

While the nursing mentoring program focuses on connecting two peers, the Leadership Institute’s PALS In The Community program focuses on engaging leadership students with community members. 

The community PALS, which stands for Promoting Active Leadership Students, are community members who have participated in the Leadership Greater Topeka Program or have a history with the Leadership Institute. 

A Washburn PALS mentor must be an upper-class student or member of the Leadership Student Council. 

According to Interim Director of the Leadership Institute, Lauren Edelman, the program is an essential foundation of support.

“The main purpose of the program is to give students an external support system and provide somebody who can give them insight or advice and a real-life picture of what life in that profession looks like,” said Edelman. 

Morgan Holloway, a senior technology administration major, joined the program back in 2016 when she was a freshman on the Student Leadership Council.

“When I first joined, I was a forensic chemistry and crime scene investigation major, and I got partnered up with someone in the FBI. That was cool, but then I changed my major,” said Holloway.

In her sophomore year, she applied to be a mentor for her new major and got paired with Mikki Burcher, a former editor of the Bod Magazine and Kaw Yearbook. 

“We connected on pretty much everything, which is awesome,” said Holloway. 

The two met a year prior when Holloway was a freshman, and Burcher visited the student leadership council to give a presentation. 

Holloway joined the program because she wanted to find someone who would provide support through college.

“I knew that college was a great networking experience and not being from Topeka, I felt like I needed a connection of that nature,” said Holloway. “She is my go-to person. She is not just my mentor; she is also my friend.” 

These are only two examples of the types of programs that exist to match students with others who are willing to help them on their educational and professional journeys. 

First generation college students can find support through the First-Generation Mentor Program. The Military-Student Success Center helps veterans connect with other veterans. And, the list goes on. Students who want to make the most of the networking and mentoring opportunities at Washburn can begin almost anywhere on campus.

Faculty, staff, administrators, alumni and other students have shown over and over again that they are willing to help others reach their goals.

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