T.E.A.M. Mentorship Program

 

Barbara Bell, News Editor

The Together Everyone Achieves More (T.E.A.M.) Peer Mentor Program engages intellectually talented students by matching first-year and transfer undergraduates from underrepresented backgrounds to an upper-class peer mentor.

“Research shows that intentional support for underrepresented students is crucial to positive University experiences, especially on predominantly white campuses,” T.E.A.M. Co-Director Amy Davis said. “The goal of T.E.A.M. has been to foster an affinity to the University community among the first-year scholars it serves.”

“We do all that we can to expose students to the resources and people that will allow them to not only integrate into the community but stand out as the global leaders they are at Bucknell and beyond,” Davis said.

T.E.A.Ms Conception and History

T.E.A.M. has a relatively short, but rich, history here at the University since its conception in 2009. Its founding is largely thanks to Staff Psychologist Shallary Duncan. Duncan has years of experience in counseling, and in the 1980s, she began to recognize common threads among underrepresented student groups. For years, she provided research and brought an expert to campus to assess University needs for a mentoring program. In the fall of 2009, the program began as a joint effort between Multicultural Student Services (MSS) and former Psychological Services, now the Counseling & Student Development Center.

Currently, T.E.A.M. operates out of MSS with consultations and help from other offices and departments. The program has steadily grown from its first year back in 2009, and to-date T.E.A.M. has served over 90 first-year scholars.

Yearlong Mentorship

T.E.A.M. also expanded dramatically this year with its first pre-orientation program, RAMP Up! (Ready, Aware, Motivated, and Prepared).

The pre-orientation program offers academic sessions and introduces students to many of the resources they can utilize on campus. For example, RAMP Up! included a management academic session to address the growing number of scholars in the School of Management as well as presentations from the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans* and Queer (LGBTQ) Resources.

One of T.E.A.M.’s more unique features is that it maintains a yearlong mentorship program, as opposed to other, more informal programs where mentoring may only last a few weeks or a semester at most.

“Starting early is crucial, but it is also very difficult. Our students are high-achievers, so they are pulled in many different directions from the moment they arrive,” Davis said.

T.E.A.M.’s first yearly event is an annual trip to the Cowan Conference Center to complete recreational courses in order to “foster community among our mentors and scholars,” Davis said.

Allan La ’18, a T.E.A.M. mentee and now-mentor, said that Cowan was a highlight because he was able to watch his mentee step out of his comfort zone on the ropes course and excel.

“He had a fear of heights, yet he was able to complete the obstacle slowly with encouragement. I hope that [experience] will help him develop into a leader over his time at Bucknell,” La said.

The Role of a Mentor

La believes his role as a mentor is one of being a role model and having empathy.

“I do what I am supposed to do because I have to stay credible. What I lecture to my mentee is what I have to abide by as well. It’s important to think in another’s shoe and to understand their world from their perspective,” La said.

Bwalya Mwaba ’16 summarized his T.E.A.M. experience by stating that the opportunities the program has opened for him simply by exposing him to the resources, and some well before he needed them, is a “formidable” achievement.

“Knowing that I am a part of an organization whose sole objective is the success of its participants is heart-warming and extremely self-rewarding. The camaraderie that springs from T.E.A.M. is amazing; it’s a solid network of intelligent, thoughtful, and innovative individuals who just happen to have the same passion for seeing good people reach their dreams and supporting them in their endeavors,” Mwaba said.

This Year’s Programming

T.E.A.M. will hold its annual Fall Reception, featuring Provost Barbara Altmann as the keynote speaker. Around Thanksgiving, T.E.A.M. hosts an annual dinner prepared by mentors and mentees. During the spring semester, the program will continue to host a variety of academic and social events. These events culminate in the Spring Banquet, which allows T.E.A.M. to honor the year-long accomplishments of its scholars.

Broader Social Impact

T.E.A.M.’s presence has grown increasingly important to Davis at times when she has “felt the deep frustration with aspects of Bucknell’s culture. T.E.A.M. has placed change and progress at the forefront of my mind as I participate in our greater community,” Davis said.

Davis has worked with dozens of both first-year and upper-class students in the past, which has provided her with a “continuously shifting” perspective of the University campus climate. T.E.A.M. focuses on high-achieving students, and Davis said she’s watched the development of “the best of the best,” and this front row seat has allowed her to learn what challenges persist over time.

“I’ve gained an appreciation for the complexity of Bucknell’s culture and a fascination with the ways students make their own niches on campus,” Davis said.

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