Transferring knowledge

A peer mentor working with their mentee.New student implements peer mentorship program for English students

When Katie Jessup arrived at uWaterloo in January 2012 as a transfer student, she brought along some great experience in peer-mentorship. It’s no surprise that by fall 2012 she was working with Dr. Heather Smyth to create a peer-mentorship program for uWaterloo’s English department.

At the University of Windsor, Katie gained experience as both a mentee and a mentor. Once she transferred to uWaterloo, Katie accidentally found herself in an unofficial mentorship role in her 251A English class. She had taken a similar class before transferring, and found that her classmates were eager for her advice.

“The students around me in the English program seemed to simply need a student who had gone through it already to tell them they would be ok and it is normal to feel challenged, or perhaps frustrated, as they learned new academic skills,” she said.

Katie has spent the last year arranging training, recruiting volunteers, coordinating with professors and spreading the message of the importance of peer-mentorship. With help from Dr. Smyth and several dedicated senior mentors, the English Peer Mentoring Group debuted at the beginning of October.

The number of mentees is slowly growing, and Katie is happy to see this opportunity finally available to uWaterloo’s English students. “Many students don’t expect such a challenge, because English isn’t always thought of as requiring a new set of technical and analytical skills,” she said. “It is much more than writing, but an entire way of thinking and doing.”

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