Passion for Justice

Mentoring Program Connects Students, Alumni

by Edward Carpenter

The University of San Francisco’s College of Arts and Sciences recently launched a mentoring program designed to connect students with alumni who share their career, cultural, or social interests.

The mentors come from a range of backgrounds – medicine, education, technology, and law are just some of the fields represented – and will serve as guides to students within the college. Additionally, juniors and seniors who are being mentored by alumni may sign up to serve as mentors themselves to freshmen and sophomores.

“On a daily basis, I was seeing so many students who would benefit from having someone to talk to about the experiences of life and not necessarily what classes they need to take,” said Laleh Shahideh, associate dean for student academic services.

Because the program is in its pilot phase, it is currently open only to University Scholars (high-achieving students who were admitted through the University Scholars scholarship program) in the College of Arts and Sciences and members of the pre-professional health community, but Shahideh hopes to expand the program in the fall to include all Arts and Sciences students. “There is so much need for this,” she said.

Mentoring relationships begin online through a Web-based program designed by Francis Kong, MS ’95. Students search the database of alumni who have volunteered to be mentors and then contact those they think would be a good match. From there, the student/mentor pair determines how often to stay in touch and whether that contact should be via email, phone or in person.

Interest in the program is already high. Shahideh said word is rapidly spreading among alumni, who are eager to help guide students as they progress through college and begin pursuing careers or graduate school.

For many alumni, Kong said, mentoring fulfills their desire to give back while still accommodating their busy schedules. By serving as mentors, alumni not only share their knowledge and experience, but they also potentially have a direct impact on students’ lives, all while remaining connected to USF.

“You can control your time, your own schedule, and be as involved as you want to be,” Kong said. “For alumni, this is a way of making the link between where you came from and where you are now. Alumni are a university’s most powerful resource. Ultimately, alums are ambassadors to the outside world.”