Glazing over its description, you might learn that the Link Peer Mentoring Program is designed to assist incoming underrepresented freshman and transfer students adjust to college life by pairing them with USD students. However, this really doesn’t give a good sense of how the program works. I interviewed two of the mentors who have been involved in the program for years to fully delve into the experience.
Lea Park-Kim and Yasamin Shoriz, both seniors, are heavily involved on campus and still find the time to mentor. Lea, a Political Science major interested in foreign affairs, is currently a coxswain on the San Diego Rowing team. Yasamin, a Sociology major, is the director of USDtv as well as the president of the Chaldean American Student Association.
They both understand that new stages in their lives, such as going to college, are always challenging so a little extra support from an upperclassman is a great motivator to keep on succeeding.
Since Link is a fairly new program, both Lea and Yasamin began as upperclass mentors. That being said, they didn’t have a mentor to guide them in their first year. Looking back at her freshman year, Yasamin recalls “It would have been nice to have an upperclassman that had been at USD a few years to kind of give me the student perspective and the resources that I needed so I didn’t always have to go to someone who was a staff member.” This reflection on Yasamin’s experience during her freshman year is surprising considering she embodies such a confident persona, yet it echoes the need for guidance inherent in all of us.
Creating genuine connections is the basis of the Link program. According to Yasamin, the program offers a support system that is not only centered on the mentor and mentee but also focused on creating networks where other mentees know that they have a group of people who they can call on for support and friendship. Lea continues by saying that the connections through Link begin with smaller relationships and extend to a larger group.
Link is meant to last one semester but the relationships between the mentors and the mentees often continue much longer. As a previous mentee, I experienced this firsthand with Lea who was my mentor last year. During the spring, I knew that she would be going to Washington D.C. for the entire semester and would consequently be really busy. However, she still managed to maintain contact by emailing me little tidbits of her experiences there. These positive messages made me see that even when she was across the country, she still had me in mind.
The roles of both mentor and mentee are each vital in their own way. Lea contemplates this by saying “I am a part of my mentees’ life right now so that is something meaningful to me and hopefully my mentees as well.”