Sophomore year may be challenging for some students adjusting to college life at The University of Texas-Pan American. The University Retention Advisement Program (URAP) has employed a group of qualified student mentors to help.
The Sophomore Academic Mentoring program (SAM) ensures sophomores or protégés, as they are called, receive the help they need to reach their academic goals. SAM is now accepting applications from students interested in applying for this on-campus, paid position for the fall semester.
Full-time juniors and seniors with a declared major and a 2.5 GPA or higher may apply until July 1. Mentors are chosen based on their scholastic record, campus references and an interview.
The SAM program was piloted in spring 2007, with a total of 335 students. There were 21 mentors and 314 sophomore protégés. According to SAM Program Coordinator Karen D. Speer, this year's goal is to expand the program by hiring a total of 75 mentors. Each mentor will work with 17 sophomores from the same college. This will accumulate to a total of 1,350 students in the program.
Sophomore students have an assigned faculty or professional adviser to address academic advisement, however, the SAM program is geared toward supplementing the advisement, by promoting the academic and social integration of students into the UTPA community.
"We want the sophomore students to be able to relate to their peer mentor as students. With the training and supervision that SAM mentors are provided, they have the necessary skills and resources to efficiently address any problems that may arise," said Speer.
URAP believes that sophomores are faced with difficult issues such as choosing a major that suits them.
"Protégés have gained a sense of belonging, it is easier for them to find those answers that they need," Speer said. "And, some choose to apply to become mentors during their junior year, so that they can help someone else, since their experience was very rewarding."
Speer said successful junior and senior students have faced these issues head-on. Student mentors like responsibility and helping others succeed in life. A perfect mentor candidate should be a role model, possess leadership skills and be interested in working with other UTPA students, she said.
"Their greatest accomplishment reported is the sense of having given back by helping UTPA sophomore students," Speer said.
Sophomores receive academic encouragement and guidance from their peer mentor along with invitations to attend social and athletic events on campus. SAM protégés have an advantage by having a mentor who has already completed the second year and can share their experiences.
For more information regarding the application process, contact Speer at 956/ 316-7966. Applications can be found under mentor forms on the SAM Web site, as well as protégé applications at www.utpa.edu/sam