By Laura Bayne/UGA Today
The University of Georgia will launch its first comprehensive mentorship initiative, the UGA Mentor Program, on June 12. Alumni, including faculty and staff, who are interested in participating can create a profile at mentor.uga.edu. The site will open for student sign-ups in August.
Following the success of smaller mentoring endeavors in the university’s schools and colleges, and at the recommendation of the Board of Visitors, President Jere W. Morehead formed a presidential task force to create a university-wide mentoring program available to UGA students and alumni.
“University of Georgia alumni are eager to support current students as they explore possible career paths and life goals,” said Morehead, “and our students are excited to connect with members of the Bulldog family who can provide inspiration and guidance. I am grateful that our alumni are willing to give back to UGA in this important way, and I look forward to the many lasting benefits that will come from the program.”
The UGA Mentor Program offered a pilot program in January 2019 to 115 pairs of alumni and students. Of the students who participated, 93% said they gained an appreciation for mentoring as a personal and professional development tool.
“Having a mentor is a great chance to look at someone else’s journey from UGA to where they are now—especially if it aligns with your interests,” said LeBria Casher, an English and comparative literature major from Douglasville, who will graduate from UGA in 2020. “Mentors are a valuable source of information, and you get out of the mentorship relationship what you put into it. You never know what good will come from that relationship.”
The UGA Mentor Program, housed in the Career Center, serves both students and alumni. Each participant commits to only one to two hours per month for a 16-week match. The program website hosts a messaging platform that protects participants’ personal information, and once a mentorship relationship is established, students and mentors can communicate in person or from wherever they are via text message, email or phone.
“I was surprised at how easy it was to create a profile and respond to a mentee request. I loved being able to message quickly on the website before we decided to start emailing and texting,” said Kim Metcalf, a small-business owner who participated in the pilot program as a mentor.
To become mentors, alumni first create an online profile at mentor.uga.edu. The website then allows students to search and connect with them based on criteria such as major, interests and location. Resources are available to help ensure a mutually beneficial mentoring experience, including a suggested timeline and tips for introductory conversations and goal setting.
Students will be encouraged to create a profile in August when they return for fall semester and will be required to attend an orientation session to be eligible to request a mentor. To learn more about the UGA Mentor Program or create a profile, visit mentor.uga.edu.