Creating Community with One2One Peer Mentoring
To highlight the supportive and collaborative community that awaits prospective SocialWork@Simmons students, we are publishing a series of blog posts that feature many of our student life offerings.
The One2One peer mentoring program came to life in late 2015 after the Student Advisory Board determined that mentoring opportunities would improve SocialWork@Simmons students’ experience by creating a greater sense of community. What started as a small mentoring group has grown into a robust community of mentors and mentees, including SocialWork@Simmons alumni who have decided to continue their involvement in the group beyond graduation. In addition, One2One provides valuable leadership and growth opportunities for students in the mentor role.
Students who are starting the SocialWork@Simmons program can join One2One and elect to be mentored by students who are further along in their studies. Mentor relationships take many different forms and are determined by the mentor and mentee. Many students find that discussing time management, academic goals, and even their personal lives with their mentors connects them to the Simmons community and helps them succeed in their studies.
“Students ask their mentor questions such as, ‘What should I expect going into the program? Can you help me with time management? When should I talk with my advisor versus my professor?’ ” says Dr. Julia Riley, the faculty advisor for the program.
With a brick-and-mortar school, you have the opportunity to walk down the hall, connect before class, get lunch, or do study groups. It’s harder for online students to get those experiences, and the One2One mentor group provides a built-in community support system.
Students can become involved in One2One in many ways. The One2One group regularly meets in the online classroom, and any student, whether interested in joining the program or not, can attend to meet others in the group and learn more.
Students interested in being mentored have an initial meeting with Dr. Riley, where she learns about their academic and personal interests in order to match the student with a like-minded mentor.
“We really want to try and match students who are interested in the same specialization,” Dr. Riley says.
Once mentors and mentees are matched, the students are responsible for creating and maintaining the relationship. “Students can meet every week, every other week, whatever works for them,” Dr. Riley says. “As long as they are connected.”
More Than Mentorship
At a fundamental level, One2One is a peer mentoring program, but the group contributes much more to the SocialWork@Simmons community than just a support system. For new students who are beginning their studies, One2One provides opportunities to help them feel like a member of the community. The benefit to mentors is equally important, though. “It’s really about providing leadership and support for both academic and personal goals,” Dr. Riley says.
As mentors, students who are further along in their studies are given the opportunity to practice their leadership skills. Mentors hone their skills and practice supporting their mentees through important decisions — a skill they will use throughout their careers as social workers.
One2One is just one of many groups that provides support and builds community in the SocialWork@Simmons program. If you are a prospective SocialWork@Simmons student, keep in mind that there are varied student life opportunities for you to find your niche. Learn more about student life opportunities by reading our blog post titled “SocialWork@Simmons Student Life Update: Creating a Sense of Community.”
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