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ASPIRE mentors-HECC-SOU

Help change students’ lives; become an ASPIRE mentor

(Salem, Ore.) – The Office of Student Access and Completion at Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating commission is encouraging community members statewide to sign up as ASPIRE volunteer mentors at OregonStudentAid.gov/ASPIRE to help students find pathways to success.

ASPIRE is the state’s mentoring program to help students access education and training beyond high school. The program matches trained and supportive adult volunteer mentors with middle and high school students, to  help plan for their future career and education goals. ASPIRE volunteering opportunities are available at 157 schools or sites throughout the state, and no prior experience is needed. Training, tools and resources are provided.

“This is probably the most direct way to make a difference in a young person’s life,” said Adrienne Simmons, ASPIRE mentor at Ashland High School.

Students who participate in ASPIRE gain support in planning for their lives after high school, receive help in applying for training and college programs, and get assistance in applying for scholarships and financial aid. Students at ASPIRE sites are more likely to graduate on time, and enroll in colleges at higher rates. ASPIRE students are also more likely to receive financial aid through scholarships and grants.

The unique roles ASPIRE mentors play in the lives of students were reflected in exit surveys of recently mentored students.

“My mentor guided me through every step to college,” one student said. “Without her help, I would not be attending college.”

Another student said his mentor guided him “through the ins and outs of how to approach a new job.”

The ASPIRE program’s call for volunteers is part of National Mentoring Month, a campaign held each January that focuses attention on the need for mentors and how partners can work together to increase youth mentoring.

Oregonians with the time and willingness to become ASPIRE volunteer mentors in their communities can learn more, find an ASPIRE site in their area, or sign up at OregonStudentAid.gov/ASPIRE.

Mentoring Helps SOU’s First Year Students Succeed

Peer to Peer Support Program Sees Dramatic Growth
(Ashland, Ore.) – Southern Oregon University hopes to increase its first to second year retention rate by assigning academically successful mentors to help first year students succeed. First year retention at SOU is just short of 70 percent. The university’s goal is to achieve a rate in the mid-70s over the next few years.
Begun as a pilot project in the 2009-10 academic year, the mentorship program has seen strong growth. “Last year there were 35 students involved,” says program coordinator Jessica Rapport. “So far this year we have 121 participating.”
A new initiative driving growth this year is outreach to veterans, pairing up soldiers who are new to campus with fellow veterans who have more college experience and are academically successful. Research shows if students feel supported, connected and engaged on campus, they will perform better academically.
“Being a part of the first year mentor program is like having another family,” says mentee Robyn Eckert. “My mentor was more than a friend; She was the big sister I needed in college.”
Rapport says mentors are asked to meet with their mentee at least one hour a week, but are encouraged to do more. “We hope this relationship will help build campus community and strengthen student engagement.”
“For me, it was a chance to take a break from class and spend regular time with a first year student,” says mentor Reena Cramer. “It was amazing to see my mentee at the same time every week, and to hear what her week was like. Sometimes it was bad, and we would talk about it and discuss solutions. Sometimes it was good, and we would have some food and hang out. It was a rewarding experience because she told me I made a difference in her time at SOU for the better.”
The first year mentor program also hosts group activities such as rafting trips, visits to Science Works, and group study sessions. It also provides opportunities for first year students to work with community organizations.
Student fees and a partnership with AmeriCorps through Oregon Campus Compact provide the funding for SOU’s first year mentor program.
For further information contact:
Jesse Rapport
fymp@sou.edu
541.552.8452