In early May, BSU engaged MNA to complete a three-year NSF-funded HBCU-UP implementation grant titled- Education Innovation Initiatives—Ecosystem for Student Success (Ei2 ESS). The initiative endeavors to provide BSU’s undergraduate students with the required support in the form of in-and out-of-class academic mentoring that will not only motivate them to persist, learn, and be better engaged but also enable them to graduate from college in four years. Within a short period of time, MNA collected and completed a data summary report on how well the (near-) peer mentorship program is being planned and executed on campus.
Using an online survey and follow-up interviews and questionnaires, MNA has found early indications of development of a strong cadre of mentors on BSU’s campus. Although a small sample size for the current effort, the initial anecdotal findings are promising. All participating mentors first spent time observing the mentees in their classes before mentoring the students (who volunteered to be mentored) over a three-week period. Generally, mentors have indicated satisfaction with the quality of orientation and support they have received from the program staff and are looking forward to a more organized and meaningful engagement with the mentees in Fall and beyond. Words such as, “a great learning experience,” “exhilarating,” and “an opportunity to learn a mentee’s way of learning and thinking,” were mentioned in the survey and follow up questionnaire. Both the groups’ academic work, level of engagement, and relationships will be tracked over the next 1-2 years of the grant. MNA is looking forward to be fully involved in the grant evaluation process.