Freshman Mentors build confidence, skills and friendships

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Being a new student on campus can be daunting, especially if your first language is not English.

This was the experience of Marco Carrillo, a business management major from Veracruz, Mexico. Carrillo became a Freshman Mentor because he wanted to help other students take advantage of everything BYU has to offer.

The Freshman Mentoring program is designed to allow new freshmen priority registration for high-demand general education courses and to give them access to a peer mentor who can help them succeed in their first year of college by setting up study groups, showing them where they can find on-campus resources and being a reliable friend.

Freshman Mentor Spencer Brown has made meaningful friendships with many of the students he works with.  Photo by Sarah Hill
Freshman Mentor Spencer Brown has made meaningful friendships with many of the students he works with.
(Photo by Sarah Hill)

“I remember a conversation I once had with my father about the benefit of mentors. It was a lesson that I took to heart, and as a result I have had many great mentors in my life,” Carrillo said. “Now, I am now honored to be in a position where I can act as a mentor to others.”

Clark Anderson, a human resources major from St. George, explained that as a transfer student from Dixie State University, he did not know about any of the resources available to help him transition to BYU. As a result he struggled with the process. Stemming from that difficult experience, he became a peer mentor and has enjoyed being able to see the new students get excited about different aspects of campus life.

“I’m glad that I can be their first stop to get information about virtually anything,” Anderson said.

Carrillo said one of the most important things he does as a mentor is help students reflect on the experiences they are having while they make, what can be, a difficult transition.

“We are constantly encouraging them to explore beyond what happened to them, to why it was important, and how they interpreted their experiences,” he said. “Our ultimate goal is to direct them to discuss opportunities that might arise by their responses, such as choosing a major, internships, or other educational activities, and to offer resource referral.”

Zach White, a sophomore from Provo studying neuroscience, said he also enjoys the opportunity he has as a mentor to help students resolve their concerns about the difficulties of college life.

“My favorite part has been guiding the students to their own answers and seeing them resolve their own concerns and find their solutions,” White said. “It is really exciting seeing students change their attitude and adapt to the rigors and trials of BYU.”

One such case was a fellow international student who was having a difficult time keeping up with her assignments. As a result, she had been placed on academic warning, in danger of having to leave BYU if she couldn’t raise her GPA.

After listening to her situation, Carrillo shared with her the feelings of disappointment and frustration that he, too, had felt as an international student. Together, they made a list of things the student could do to improve her situation and how she would accomplish them, Carrillo explained.

“By the end of our meeting, she had a new set of goals and a plan of action to solve her problems,” he said. “We went together to talk to her professors, and I introduced her to faculty members that I knew in the Writing Center Lab, research lab, library, and Writing Fellows.”

This student is one of more than 200 individuals Carrillo has been able to influence and befriend during his time as a peer mentor, and, Carrillo added, the relationships he builds do not end when the student moves on from freshman year.

“Mentoring has allowed me to build friendships for life,” Carrillo said. “Freshman Mentoring has not only changed the lives of the incoming generation of students, but it has also changed mine.”

For more information on becoming a mentor, visit the Freshman Mentoring website.

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