CCE Receives NCICU Grant for Adult Student Mentoring
North Carolina Independent Colleges & Universities (NCICU) awarded Guilford College $11,000 to support the Friend-to-Friend peer mentoring program, which has been sponsored by the Center for Continuing Education since 2007.
The program—which is fully funded by CCE support, collaborations, grants and gifts—helps build a community of support for Guilford’s adult students. Since the program’s inception, 364 students have been served and 151 mentees and mentors have graduated from the College.
Adult students have a variety of backgrounds and circumstances, including being first-generation students, single parents or unemployed, or they may be full-time students and employees trying the balance family and other commitments.
“Based on research we have done on the program’s effectiveness, we can say without qualification that both mentors and mentees have higher GPAs, persistence/retention and graduation rates than comparable groups of adult students,” says Rita Serotkin, associate vice president and dean of continuing education. “We are very grateful to NCICU for enabling us to expand the program to help more students.”
The program’s coordinator, Nicole Arnold, collaborates with various offices on campus, including Career Services, the Bonner Center, Hege Library, the Learning Commons, the CCE Student Government and the Adult Improv group in order to build a dynamic support network for students.
“From its beginning in 2007, when the Friend-to-Friend program was jointly developed by a CCE staff member and her (then) student intern Nicole Cornett Arnold for 15 students, until today, when it affects 10 times that number, the program has continually represented the best of Guilford,” Serotkin says.
Hallmarks of the program are collaboration between students, staff and faculty, community-building, critical thinking, problem solving, diversity, and excellence. It serves as a statewide and national model of peer mentoring’s effectiveness in a college setting, Serotkin says.
“Sometimes in life all a person needs is a listening ear and an encouraging word and that is exactly what the Friend-to-Friend Mentoring program has given to me. In return I will do the same to help someone reach their success as an adult student,” says Rena Davis, who was a mentee in spring 2012 and served as a mentor last year.
Anthony Locklear, director of college access programs for NCICU, says the organization strives to help independent colleges in the state create or enhance initiatives that increase retention and graduation rates.
“The value of something like this, it’s almost impossible to put a price on it,” Locklear says. “Graduation from college is fulfillment of a dream. That fulfillment impacts a student’s family and the larger community. Truly, it’s immeasurable.”
Funding for mentoring initiatives comes from the federal College Access Challenge Grant, Council of Independent Colleges, and other funds raised by NCICU.