New HC Mentoring Program Supports Incoming Students

Whether you are a first-year or a transfer student, the transition to a new college environment can be overwhelming. Starting this fall, an innovative Honors College program will offer support to incoming students by teaming up Older, Wiser Learners (OWLs) with first-year and transfer students (Joeys) new to the UMKC Honors College.  Being an OWL is an opportunity for current HC sophomores and juniors to build lasting relationships with younger HC students. Each OWL will mentor a “mob” of three to seven Joeys, helping the Joeys feel welcomed and integrated into the campus community. OWLs were in touch with their assigned students by email during the summer and greeted them in person at the Honors College BBQ in August. OWLs will meet with their Joeys individually before midterms and finals, attend group events during the fall, and continue the mentor relationship in the spring term.

Thirty Honors College students volunteered for this new program and attended training last spring. Mentorship basics included OWL expectations and Code of Conduct, as well as a review of information about the Honors College and available campus resources for students. OWLs learned about best practices for guiding new students through common issues they might face on campus. They also learned what to do if they find they need guidance helping a Joey with a problem or if they were concerned about the safety of their Joey.

OWLs are enthusiastic about this new Honors College venture:

“I’m excited about being an OWL Mentor because as a freshman student I would not have succeeded if it were not for my more ‘social’ friends. As a commuter student, I didn’t stay on campus much. Having someone closer to you as a mentor/guide (rather than SIs and faculty) who has been through the journey reinforces strategies to tackle life and college. I hope to be that person for others because I was completely lost my first semester and was not aware of the bountiful resources for success.”

Johnson Poon
B.S. Biology | Pre-Medicine | Chemistry Minor
Biomedical Sciences Emphasis

What’s next in building support for student success? The Honors College is looking for recent HC graduates who will volunteer to become Graduation Guides, mentoring our seniors as they negotiate job hunting, applying for grad school, and getting ready for next steps after graduation. Interested applicants should contact HC student advisor Margo Gamache (gamachem@umkc.edu).