I-Promise Mentorship Program to create strong bonds with incoming students


Photo Courtesy of Sarah Watson

Princess Lacora B White (left) met Verna Falon Orr (right) through the I-Promise Mentorship Program last school year. Orr was assigned to White as her mentor and advised her throughout her experience as a transfer student.

The Illinois Promise Mentorship Program has been recruiting mentors for the 2018-2019 school year. 

Illinois Promise is a scholarship awarded to newly admitted students who have the greatest amount of financial need.  The I-Promise Mentorship Program is an academic, personal and professional support program with resources offered by the Illinois Promise Scholarship.

Sarah Watson, chief director of this program, recommended students to participate in the program and become mentors to the newly admitted students.

Each year from May to the beginning of the new term, the program will recruit mentors for I-Promise mentees. The participants will sign up on and submit a mentor profile on Mentor Track.

In September, around the third week of the new semester, mentor and mentees will be matched to each other. As the older students on campus, the mentors will guide the mentees in academic, personal and professional matters.

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    “(We are) looking for faculty, staff in the community, academic professionals, graduate students who would be interested in working with somebody,” Watson said. 

    Watson said there is a lot of positive feedback from both mentors and mentees. The mentees always talk about how nice it is to have someone who is more familiar with the “confusing” institution when one is away from home. The mentors have found their “tutoring” experience to someone to be rewarding.

    Vera Faylon Orr, Doctoral candidate in Education, joined the I-Promise mentorship program and became the mentor of Princess Lacora B White, a senior in LAS, for the 2017-2018 school year.

    Orr said it was a precious experience to be White’s mentor.

    “Throughout the past year, I have learned more about myself — what I am good at and what I need to work on — while being intentionally present for Princess during her transition to college and college life,” she said. “I have learned this generation of young people are more inquisitive, thoughtful, smart, talented and self-aware than I gave them credit and that is encouraging.”

    They developed a relationship closer than simply a mentor and a mentee.

    “Verna is the big sister I never had, but always wanted. We share so many interests and value similar perspectives. Our pairing was the definition of a perfect match,” White said.

    While Orr recognized the program as a mutually beneficial process for both mentors and mentees, she said it would be better if the mentor is compassionate and willing to acknowledge, accept and work on themselves as the relationship progresses.

    Both of them recommend students to participate in the mentorship program.

    “I think the mentorship program is a great way to become involved on campus,” White said.

    “Any person willing to help develop a newcomer through guidance and feedback would make a good fit,” Orr said.

    A previous version of this article said that undergraduates can apply to the program. I-Promise Mentorship Program does not accept undergraduate mentors. The Daily Illini regrets this error.

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