Thursday, November 8, 2012

Mentoring Matters at the Norman Paterson School

For grad students, different times of the year can be more stressful than others. That’s one reason the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs created a mentoring program for NPSIA students.

Norean Shepherd, NPSIA administrator, says: “We recognize that many grad students go through cycles of stress before midterms or after receiving their first set of grades on midterms and assignments. About mid-October, we find that many first year students begin thinking that they can’t handle the program. Perhaps they may have underestimated the expectations and requirements of our program.”

So three years ago, Shepherd set up a program that invites second-year master’s students at NPSIA to act as mentors for new first-year students (mentees).

The mentors volunteer to meet with students on a casual, one-on-one basis to provide moral support, and to discuss coping strategies that have helped them in their first year. They do not help with coursework.

“We have had great feedback from participants in the program,” says Shepherd.

Here are some of the comments from former mentees:

“I just wanted to let you know that I think that the mentorship program that you started up was really wonderful! I mentioned this to you before, but talking with a second year student really helped me out. I realized that I am not the only one going through all the stress of being a graduate student!”

“When I first saw the email, I thought that it was a great program but not for me. HOWEVER, a week later and a couple of grades later, I was more than ready to meet with somebody! The girl I met with really gave me some concrete and practical suggestions that she found helped her cope with the stress from school.”

“I participated in the mentoring program last year and I was so glad I did. Speaking to a second year student really helped me deal with the stresses of first year and I want to give back by being a mentor.”

Shepherd is still looking for NPSIA students who want to participate in NPSIA’s 2012 mentoring program.

Graduate students, who are also Teaching Assistants, may have access to a TA Mentor specific to their department. This group of outstanding individuals is supervised by the Educational Development Centre and collaborates with the Graduate Supervisor in their department to co-ordinate peer observations, organize departmental events (both social and academic), meet with the teaching assistants in their department, and facilitate training sessions. More information is available on the TA Mentorship Program website.

The International Students’ Services Office (ISSO) also offers a Graduate Mentoring Program for International Students. The program is full for this fall.

Graduate students who do not have access to a mentoring program but require additional support can access Carleton’s Health and Counselling services.

Thursday, November 8, 2012 in
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