MANSFIELD -- A new mentoring program at The Ohio State University at Mansfield is bringing high school freshman together with college freshmen.
Students from the Buckeye Living and Learning Community (formally SMART Learning Community) at Ohio State Mansfield meet with 9 th- grade students from Mansfield Senior High School to discuss important topics and provide insight on their journey to higher education.
Adrienne Hopson, a faculty member at Ohio State Mansfield teaching biology and education, is also the coordinator of the BLLC program on campus and Associate Dean Dawn Kitchen came up with this “near-peer” mentoring program. Their hope was that both mentees and mentors would grow in academic confidence and motivation as a result.
BLLC allows first-year students to get involved in a variety of activities that start the summer before classes and continues throughout the academic year. These communities provide students with a support system of faculty, staff, and students.
“This program is being tested out right now. It’s a field experience course so our Ohio State Mansfield students have been going to the high school one day a week since the end of January,” Hopson says. “They meet with a group of anywhere from six to eight students and talk about different topics including mental health and resources at the high school and college level.”
Dannie Cameron, a freshman and music major at Ohio State Mansfield, says, “We go to Mansfield Senior High and talk to the students about things like bullying, social situations or whatever the students want to talk about. It’s a fun program.”
“I took the opportunity to do this because I really want to be a teacher one day. I think this has helped me start preparing for my future.”
Erynn Vaugh, a freshman student at Mansfield Senior High School, was picked for the program by her counselor.
“We sit in groups and get a chance to talk about education, poverty and our future,” she says. “It makes me think about how I want to further my education, maybe even at Ohio State Mansfield.”
This is the first year for the program. Hopson describes it as a version of a community outreach course. The group has been testing out how to interact with the high school students and hopes to launch a full version in the spring where the college students are able to spend more time with the high school students.
“We are excited," Hopson says. "It’s a great way for our students to give back to the community.”
Kitchen says she is impressed by the teamwork and dedication the Ohio State Mansfield students have exuded during their time with the high school students.
“I was so impressed by our own Ohio State freshman," Kitchen says. "They were rising stars when they started and seem to have grown even more in their own academic motivations, which was our goal.”