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The Office of Multicultural Student Support and Success (OMSS)’s mentor program is officially rebooted for the 2019-2020 academic year.
The OMSS Mentor Program was put on pause to reevaluate the process, said Program Support Assistant for LGBTQ Students Hunter Kirshner. While this year’s program is very similar to the original design, both Kirshner and Coordinator of Multicultural Student Support and Success and Equity Education Kya Roumimper said they were both feeling good about the reopening of the program.
Roumimper said, “When I started (working at Keene State College), I didn’t have enough time before the school year started… so I didn’t have enough time to plan with Hunter about the program.” She said they were playing around with many different ideas and structures for the program but decided to wait until this past summer to make it their top priority.
Kirshner said the program will be focusing on incoming OMSS students (students with minority backgrounds, LGBTQ students, first-generation college students and low income students) and pairing them with KSC faculty and staff. Pairing will be determined by the OMSS office after reviewing applications made by both the mentees and mentors-to-be.
“Anyone who wants to be a mentor or mentee will fill out an application, and that’s not to see if they are good enough or anything—but rather so we (Kirshner and Roumimper) can get to know them and match people together with similar goals or interests,” Kirshner said.
The program begins with a mixer on September 13 for the mentors and mentees to meet and will finish with an end-of-the-year celebration. Roumimper said the OMSS office will use on-campus resources and events to show to the pairings. She said she wants to connect the students and faculty to other events and organizations on campus to create a more unified atmosphere.
Coordinator of Wellness Education Tiffany Mathews, a soon-to-be-mentor in the program, said she is looking forward to the mixer and meeting other mentees and mentors, aside from just her own pairing.
Matthews said one of the reasons she applied to be a mentor is because she grew up as part of the minority in her hometown in Philadelphia. She added that she is excited to connect to these students and help them adjust to campus and Keene as a whole. “I’m looking forward to being with students who may not be from New Hampshire, or even New England. Understanding the different backgrounds, different cultures and really trying to figure out how I can support them and enhance their college experience,” Matthews said. “In a way, being a mentor lets me be able to look at the students and say ‘I’m not from here either, but I really love it. It took me a while and I had to meet the right people and have my experiences… and now it feels like home.’”
The OMSS Mentor Program’s design is meant to benefit both the mentee and mentor, said both Kirshner and Roumimper.
Roumimper said her hope is to have the program be fun for both the student and the mentor. “We want the mentor to be equally as nourished as the mentee is. We want them to be learning with and from each other.” This is done by the unique structure of the meetings.
Students and their mentors are encouraged to meet on and off campus to build a more personal relationship. Kirshner said, “How they connect is up to them. It depends on their schedule, availability, how they want to communicate with each other, if they go to on-campus events together or grab a coffee in town—it’s all up to them.”
He and Roumimper both said the main goal is to allow students to learn valuable networking and professional skills, but also interpersonal connections that will allow both mentors and mentees to support one another.
Roumimper said, “We know (from studies done with college students) that students who have a wider network and who are more well connected are more likely to succeed on any college campus.” She added that this can be done by gaining meaningful connections to staff members across campus who can teach them valuable skills relating to the student’s personal interests and academics. “It doesn’t sound as glitzy or fun as other things happening on campus, but in the long term, it really does help students become successful.”
KSC first-year Katie Rochette is an OMSS student and attended the annual summer leadership retreat for incoming students.
Students like Rochette were told about the mentor program through her class designed for the students who attended the retreat.
“I’m super excited to have the opportunity to make a connection with a faculty or staff member specifically through OMSS to help me through my transition (to KSC),” Rochette said.
Though the program has yet to begin, many involved in the design or process said they were looking forward to the program and where it will lead during this academic year.
“I’m really excited,” Roumimper said, “During my undergrad, I had a mentor. I had two mentors, and I still talk to them today… I know how impactful a mentor can be in your life.”
Angelique Inchierca can be contacted at