On the evening of Friday, May 10th, more than 80 students and alumni met at the Simon Benson House for their first-ever University Studies Peer Mentor Program alumni gathering. PSU students have been peer mentoring in Freshman Inquiry and Sophomore Inquiry classes since 1994, where they support retention and student success in academic settings at Portland State. "When you are a Peer Mentor you not only help other students succeed, but you also acquire many concrete skills and experiences to set yourself up for success after graduation," explained PSU alum, Jacob Sherman ('10 & '12).
Alumni and current mentors mingled with one another, enjoyed a selection of food and beverages, engaged in a service project for Campus Recreation, and heard from two recent graduates about how their experience being a Peer Mentor fundamentally shaped them. Alumna Ajae Wallace ('11) talked about the connections she made as a Peer Mentor, how she was surrounded by a supportive community of students, faculty and staff, and how she continues to serve as a mentor in her work as a Student and Executive Coach at Inside Track. Former Peer Mentor and soon-to-be graduate Paul Park spoke about how he learned the importance of self-care as a mentor and, as the Volunteer and Events Coordinator at Central City Concern, he took a moment to discuss volunteer opportunities to the rapt audience.
The Executive Director of the PSU Alumni Association, Tom Bull, also spoke to the importance of peer networking and he recommended that Peer Mentors develop their own alumni network. Bull explained how he was able to borrow a car, find a place to live, and get a job as a result of help from the alumni of his alma mater. "There is a lot of talent and social capital that you should take advantage of," Bull told the audience, "You should help each other out."
Recent alumni of the University Studies Peer Mentor Program have found jobs with Portland Public Schools, local non-profits, accounting firms, or at Boeing and Intel; internships with the City of Portland, Lutheran Services, and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory; and positions with AmeriCorps and Teach for America. Others continue their education in graduate or doctoral studies at institutions such as Columbia University, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, or the University of California at Irvine. Several alumni have also traveled the world, either on their own or through the Fulbright Scholar Program.
During the evening, about a dozen door prizes were raffled off, and everyone enjoyed the warm spring night. One alumnus, Maria Schauble ('11), drove from Albany to attend the event. When asked if she had other reasons for her visit to Portland, Schauble replied, "No, I'm only in town for this alumni event, and I wouldn't have missed it for the world."
To learn more about University Studies alumni and current peer mentors, follow us on Facebook: University Studies Peer Mentor Program, or join our LinkedIn group and connect with other Peer Mentor alumni.