The Vanguard

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Can you measure up as a mentor?

Photo+courtesy+of+PASSAGE+USA
Photo courtesy of PASSAGE USA

Photo courtesy of PASSAGE USA

Photo courtesy of PASSAGE USA

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Patience. Compassion. Commitment. These are each great character traits to have, but are a necessity for our Student Mentors. Student Mentors work alongside the students in the PASSAGE USA program here on campus, providing them with age-appropriate relationships that a teacher-student relationship can never provide. Celest Creamer, sophomore, explains that she mentors “to give these students the same college experience that I am getting here at South.”

PASSAGE USA – Preparing All Students Socially and Academically for Gainful Employment USA – is a program that works with students with intellectual disabilities to provide them individual supports and services in academic and social inclusion in academic courses, extracurricular activities, and other aspects of University life. The program’s students are paired with Student Mentors to provide both parties with a better, more positive life experience. Student Mentors are not babysitters, however. What

Student Mentors are is advocates, friends, and role-models. In a typical day, Student Mentors may escort their Mentees to class, play ball with them at the rec center, eat lunch with them at the student center, give relationship advice, or provide job coaching to their Mentees. Regardless of what the specifics are, the Student Mentors are accepting friends throughout. As Naden Kreitz, sophomore, puts it, “A mentor equips PASSAGE students with social, academic, work, financial, and emotional tools so that PASSAGE students can excel outside the gates of the University of South Alabama.”

What’s in it for the Student Mentor? If wanting to help others is not your motivation, documented service hours and the occasional free meal might be. As none of us can predict the future, it may turn out that your time as a Student Mentor becomes one of the most useful aspects of your college career; it will certainly be one of your most rewarding ones. Heather Barsukoff, freshman, sums up her experiences as such: “I absolutely love being a student mentor! Being a mentor has been very rewarding and tons of fun! I have definitely enjoyed getting to spend time with the PASSAGE students and getting to form new friendships with them. I can’t wait to continue to work with PASSAGE USA for the rest of my time at South.”

To become a Student Mentor, contact Alexandra Chanto-Wetter at [email protected]

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Can you measure up as a mentor?