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A guideline for creating a successful mentor relationship

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    The McNair Scholar Program would like to express its gratitude to you, the mentor, for taking the time and making the commitment to the program and its’ Student Scholars. The following information regarding the mentor/mentee process and understanding the First-Generation/Low-Income college student may be helpful to you. These are simply some “best-practices” and information about the targeted student population. Please utilize as you see fit and when applicable.

    Postsecondary Access and Success for First-Generation College Students by Jennifer Eagle


    Eastern Washington University McNair Scholar Program
    The Ronald E. McNair Post baccalaureate Achievement Program prepares low-income, first-generation and/or underrepresented minority undergraduates for success in doctoral programs by providing scholarly activities and community engagement that empower participants to become agents of positive change in a culturally diverse world. EWU McNair encourages graduate studies by providing seminars, workshops and other organized opportunities for McNair undergraduates to define and create plans for achieving their goals, to gain in-depth information on the graduate school application process, to engage in research, to develop graduate-level reading and writing skills, to prepare for the GRE, to learn how to seek graduate funding and to adopt financial planning strategies, and to build the skills and the student/faculty mentor relationships critical to success at the doctoral level. A particular focus is to provide research opportunities for students.  

    Summer Grading
    Grading of the summer research internship is consistent with other courses offered on campus, which is on the 4.0 scale. It is contingent upon successful completion of the of the summer research project/paper. If a student is going to continue the project the following academic year a grade of a “Y” may be assigned.

    Understanding the needs and background of First-Generation/Low-Income Students
    Mentoring is one of the oldest processes of passing on knowledge and skills. In recent years, new models of mentoring have been recognized. These new models encourage a more relational approach to mentoring by encouraging the expression of feelings and creating a personal relationship between the mentor and mentee (McGuire & Reger, 2003). The majority of literature and studies centering on mentoring minority and/or First Generation College students have primarily focused on issues of retention and graduation instead of the students’ perceptions of the process and subsequent benefits of mentoring (Ishiyama, 2007).  While studies conducted are essential in showing a positive correlation between mentoring programs and retention in a college setting (Jaswal & Jaswal, 2008), it is also important to have an understanding of what students perceive as benefits.

    According to one particular pilot study regarding First Generation college students and mentoring, the number one role of a mentor is “friend,” followed by “resource” (Gonzalez & Ezell, ND). While this is in the context of a slightly different academic setting, nonetheless, it demonstrates the changing nature of the mentoring relationship. Moreover, it reflects the nurturing familial atmosphere created in the McNair office. We are, however, not requiring this type of mentor relationship, but simply offering suggestions, utilizing new existing research that is consistent with the EWU McNair environment.
    Research has shown that being a first-generation student has negative effect on persistence and attainment, even when other factors such as socioeconomic status are taken into account. Low-income students are often first generation as well, but even those who are not, face numerous pressures that can result in their attrition (Ouderkirk and See, ND).
    In comparison with other students, those who are first generation or low income are:

    (Ouderkirk and See, ND)

    Assisting First-Generation/Low-Income Students
    Lacking a basic knowledge of how to navigate postsecondary education, these students tend to have a greater need than their peers for academic, social, and personal support. The following strategies can promote their academic success:

    (Ouderkirk and See, ND)

    Best Practices for Mentoring:  Steps to ensure a successful research partnership

    (Merkel and Baker, ND)

    The successful mentor:

    Suggested questions to ask the mentee:

    Expectations of mentoring:

    Helpful Hints:

    (The Pennsylvania State University, College of Health and Human Development, 2011)

     Mentors, Mentoring, and McNair

    Mentors and Mentoring:

    Mentoring includes:

    Benefits of mentoring to students:

    Benefits of mentoring to faculty:

    One last bit of advice:

    (Gutierrez, 2012)

    Gonzalez, J., Ezell, J. (ND). Pilot Study conducted at Texas State University, University Advising. Mentoring First Generation College Students Pilot Study.

    Gutierrez, L., University of Texas—El Paso, 1/10/2012; presented at the University of Michigan, MORE (mentoring others results in excellence) conference.

    Ishiyama, J. (2007). Expectations and perceptions of undergraduate research mentoring: Comparing first generation, low income white/Caucasian and African American students. College Student Journal, 41(3), 540-549.

    Jaswal, F., Jaswal, T.M. (2008). Tiered mentoring to leverage student body expertise. New Directions for Community Colleges, 144, 55-61.

    McGuire, G., Reger, J. (2003). Feminist co-mentoring: A model for academic professional development. NWSA Journal, 15(1), 54-72.

    Merkel, C. , Baker, S. (ND). “How to Mentor Undergraduate Researchers” published by the Council on Undergraduate Research.

    Ouderkirk, B., Director of Student Support Services, UW-Eau Claire. (ND).  Awareness Points for First-Generation/Low-Income Students. Handout compiled by Patti See/contact for more information.

    The Pennsylvania State University, College of Health and Human Development. Alumni Mentoring Program Mentorship Program Best Practices. (2011). Best Practices for Mentor Relationships.

    Contact Information

    Eastern Washington University
    526 5th Street
    Cheney, WA 99004

    phone: 509.359.6200 (campus operator)

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