This past summer the Commuter Student Mentor (CMS) program was initiated and this fall semester, the program took shape.
The program has had a very positive impact on both the mentors and the mentees as well as the overall commuter community. Because of this program there have been new Facebook groups added that are for commuter students.
One of the mentors, English student Ally Afanador, said, “Honestly, I’ve always loved looking out for people since I can remember” she continues, “Being a CSM has given me some of the best experiences of my life.”
Not only is Ally happy with the fact that she can help other people out, she has also found great benefit of this program for herself, “I have made friends that I can hope will last me forever. Being friendly and making people smile only takes one act of kindness and that is what I hope to show people, especially my mentees,” she continued.
Spearhead of the program, Director of Off Campus and Commuter Services, Vaughn Clay is very pleased with the program’s first year, “I have been very impressed with the Commuter Student Mentors and the passion that they bring to helping the first-year commuter students make a connection to Monmouth University. Since this is a new program, we need to keep promoting its benefits to the first-year commuter students,” he said.
On the topic of his 12 chosen mentors, Clay could not be more enthusiastic at their efforts. “Considering that this is a brand new program, I feel the Commuter Student Mentors have done a great job! We have had to make a number of small adjustments along the way and the CSM’s have been incredibly flexible, while also exhibiting a great deal of commitment toward helping the first-year students succeed at Monmouth University.”
One issue for the program has been communication. “A number of the CSM’s have been able to make some great connections with their mentees. We are also refining how, where and when to link up with the first-year commuter students. It will take another cycle before we are truly able to see what kind of impact the CSM program is having on first-year commuter students,” Clay explained.
Establishing participation has been another issue the new program is facing. “Once the CSM program becomes more ingrained into the life of the first-year commuter student experience, I think we will see a greater level of participation on the part of the new commuter students,” said Clay. The foundation has been built and is continuing to be built by Clay and his mentors.
Another vital role in the implementation of this program is the mentees. Sydney Lucas, Marine Biology major and first year commuter student, “I am definitely happy that this service is available because it reminds me that it is not just the residents that have a community on campus—the commuters have one too!” Making the students feel as though they are truly a part of the Monmouth community was one of the main objectives in this program; therefore, hearing this positive feedback from Sydney is comforting to the mentors and to Clay that the program is doing its job.
Nolan Spengler, chemistry major and first year commuter student, says “I believe that the Commuter Mentor Program helped me in my transition into Monmouth. The mentors were literally available for any questions at any time.” Again, it seems as though the program succeeded in its mission of availability for the mentees to ask any questions that they might have as the semester progresses.
Regardless of the positive feedback from a few mentees, the real success of this program will be determined at the end of the fall semester. Clay says, “I feel that I will be able to get a better picture of what the program was able to accomplish at the end of the fall semester, after I survey all of the first-year commuter students.” This is not to say that having a positive impact on even a handful of commuter students isn’t a fantastic feat in itself.