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Saturday, August 24, 2019

WCC Launches New Mentorship Programs

Sage advice comes from experience. And experience is what WCC values and celebrates in two new mentorship programs.

On Tuesday, May 1, the College is hosting a unique mentoring event where students will be introduced to several professionals from their chosen careers. Careers featured at the event, which will be held in the Crane Liberal Arts and Science building, include:

  • business
  • criminal justice and law enforcement
  • health care
  • human services
  • math and science

The event is free to WCC students. Participation is limited to students who are nearing the completion of their certificate or degree. They also must have a referral from their instructor or program advisor to attend.

Before they meet with the successful professionals from their chosen field, students will hear a keynote speech by Dr. Chanel F. DeGuzman, director of academic diversity initiatives at the U-M School of Public Health.

“The breakout sessions will be with professional mentors, and are set up in a format that some people might associate with speed dating,” said Leslie Neal, who is coordinating the event for WCC’s Student Resource and Women’s Center. “Students will meet that day with five or six mentors from the career area they are pursuing to get different perspectives on it.”

More Professionals Are Needed

Neal is searching for additional mentors. “We had one mentoring meeting in January and we have another one coming up on Thursday, March 22,” she said. “That’s when they will get information on how to become a professional mentor for our students. We’re hoping that we can line up at least 25-30 professionals for the May 1 event. We are looking forward to having 100-125 students participate.”

During the mentor orientation sessions, participants are asked to develop a next-step activity to follow the May event. Some examples include a company tour or a job shadowing experience. According to Neal, there were several creative ideas brought to the pilot event last year. For example, one student was very interested in becoming an auditor. At the event, she was introduced to a professional who made it possible for her to sit in on an actual audit.

“We were so impressed with the thought that went into these next-step activities,” said Neal. “One physician’s assistant took a group of students out to lunch and talked to them more intimately about the profession. We had a nurse anesthetist who brought her students to Mott Children’s Hospital, where they were able to see an operating room.

“One physical therapist created a DVD and sent it out to her students. It featured three people in different stages of therapy. After the students had watched it, she set up a conference call to discuss it. It was a great way for them to talk about something that was relative to the field they wanted to go into.”

New Peer Mentoring Program Is a Hit

Last year, Neal and the faculty in the WCC nursing program piloted a new peer-to-peer mentorship program. In it, nursing students in their third, fourth, or fifth semester of study meet with new students before they begin their first nursing class.

“The students do a ‘words of wisdom’ workshop that takes place twice a year right before the nursing student orientations in August and in April,” said Neal. “They introduce themselves and talk a little bit about how they got to where they are. Then they share things that they found beneficial to their studies while managing a busy life.

“Everyone seems to get a lot out of it. We try to get a really good, diverse group of students to serve as peer mentors. We have some who are married and don’t have children. We have others who are single parents. Some students are working and going to school. Our international students also have been helpful in sharing their unique experiences.”

WCC Foundation Sponsored Earlier Program

The WCC Foundation Women’s Council sponsors scholarships for women and provides services and resources that support female students at WCC. In 1996, the Women’s Council introduced a mentorship program for women at the College.

“When I inherited the mentorship program three years ago, it was organized as a one-on-one program,” said Neal. “Each professional mentor would work with students for both fall and winter semesters. But the number of professionals and students interested in that kind of commitment was decreasing. The economy was changing. People were juggling a lot of things. Students were starting families. It was getting harder and harder for people to commit to it from both sides.”

Fortunately, the commitment the Foundation Women’s Council made on behalf of mentoring WCC students 16 years ago has not wavered. Money from the Council’s annual luncheon fundraiser will help to support this year’s professional mentoring event, which is open to male and female WCC students who seek advice from a sage professional.

To learn more about becoming a professional mentor at WCC or to find out if you qualify to attend the May 1 event as a student, call the Student Resource and Women’s Center at 734-677-5105 or email Neal at lwneal@wccnet.edu.

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