Club & Greek

The Commuter Student Mentor Program

The Commuter Student Mentor Program is resurfacing this upcoming month in its quest for new mentors. The program, run by Director of Off Campus and Commuter Services, Dr. Vaughn Clay, former Lead Commuter Student Mentor Lauren Niesz and newly chosen Lead Commuter Student Mentor, Alexandria Afanador, are seeking to find seasoned guides to fill the shoes of the graduating senior mentors in the program.

According to the Commuter Student Mentor page on the university website, Commuter Student Mentors are, “seasoned guides that assist the incoming first-year commuter students by helping them make the transition to life at college, while also guiding them through the many programs and resources that can be found at Monmouth University.”

The Commuter Student Mentor Program was founded in spring 2014 as a response to the lack of extra support for first-year commuter students that a residential student may have an easier access to. The program had a rough, yet still successful, start in its inaugural year; however, the students involved with the program learned from the first year and revamped their attempts.

Director of Off Campus and Commuter Services, Dr. Vaughn Clay, said, “The success [this past year] centered on the degree of interaction that the mentors had with their mentees.”

The first year, each incoming first year commuter student was assigned a mentor—whether they asked for one or not. Communication was engaged via school email address, as that was the only method of communication mentors had access to. First year students did not check their school emails regularly and response was poor to the program for many mentors because of this.

While the first year for the program was not a failure, it could do better. Dr. Clay recognized this and created a new position: Lead Commuter Student Mentor. He hired two Lead Commuter Student Mentors, Monmouth alumna Marina Shafik and current senior Lauren Niesz, to really get involved and change the process of the program.

The two Lead Commuter Student Mentors chose to have the program be an “opt-in” process as opposed to assigning mentors to students without their request. Dr. Clay stated, “Giving the first year students the decision whether or not they wanted to have a mentor played a key part in [the success this year].”

Furthermore, an increase of the mentor involvement in the New Student Orientation sessions fostered a more positive reaction from first year commuters and a better understanding of what the program is.

The program hosted events for the first year commuter students including a “Campus Schedule Walkthrough” in Aug. for mentees to formally meet their newly assigned mentors and have them show them around campus and show them where their classes were for the upcoming fall semester.

Overall, the program has made large strides in the right direction for its future. It can only do better under the new leadership of newly selected Lead Commuter Student Mentor, Alexandria Afanador. Afanador, Dr. Clay, and a selection of former, graduating senior mentors will be holding a selection/interview process this Mar. for prospective mentors.

A hopeful future commuter student mentor and former mentee, Davina Matidin, freshman computer science student, said of the program, “The CSM program was extremely helpful and a great way to ease into my first semester at Monmouth. My mentor was always attentive and was always there when I needed her. My nerves were eased and I felt at home.”

Dr. Clay is hopeful for the program’s future: “We are always looking to try to grow the program in a sense where we would like to see all first year commuter students request a mentor. One of our goals is to try to sell the program more effectively to students so they understand the purpose and value associated with the program.”

The former mentors rave about the positive effects that the program had not only on their mentees, but on themselves as well. Jaclyn Ferriso, senior Commuter Student Mentor and accounting student, reminisced about her experience, “I think being a mentor positively impacted me because I was able to be there for first year commuters in a way that wasn’t available when I was a freshman. It took me a long time to adjust to Monmouth as a commuter, so I love knowing that I was able to make that transition easier and quicker for them!”

Former Lead Commuter Student Mentor and Monmouth alumna, Marina Shafik, added, “Being a mentor improved my interpersonal and leadership skills. I had the privilege of sharing my experience with new first year students every semester, which made their college transition more successful. Watching how much the mentees grew over a short period of time was the most rewarding aspect of being a mentor.”

Dr. Clay encouraged current enthusiastic commuter students to apply: “Apply! I really hope that if you are a returning commuting undergraduate commuter student who has any kind of interest in helping people, then this is a great opportunity to help your fellow commuter students makes the transition to college.”

Requirements to apply are on the Off Campus and Commuter Services page on the university website. The deadline is Mar. 10.