Mercy offers one-on-one mentoring to freshmen

December 14, 2009 3:54:51 PM PST
Starting college is exciting, but it can be overwhelming for some freshmen. One college in our area has a unique program that matches each incoming student with a mentor to provide support in everything from academics to dorm living.

Mercy College freshman Tom DiCarlo has strong support for his college career.

"It's always, like, I could always have someone to fall back on," he said. "Because they're right there to help me."

Five hundred freshmen have one-on-one mentors this year as part of a program called PACT, or Personalized Achievement Contract.

"I've had extensive training in all aspects of the school here, so I can really help them get from where they are to where they want to be," mentor Matt Covrigaru said.

Each of five mentors handles 100 freshmen, but administrators say they focus on the individual student.

"What are their skills, what are their weaknesses, how can we help them sort of travel the roadmap through the whole college experience," dean Carolyn Tragni said.

Every college has advisers in different departments who help students navigate the various aspects of college life. Mercy College decided to create a system of one-stop shopping for individual students.

The mentors were given special training.

"They are cross-trained in a variety of services," dean William Martinov said. "Financial aid, academic advising, student life, residential life, and because they're integrated in the college campus, the student knows that they can go to that lone point of contact."

Giomary Solis wants a career in law enforcement.

"Not every college gives you this opportunity to help you out," Solis said. "So having a mentor help you out, it's actually pretty nice."

Her mentor is Terrance Jackson.

"They'll have a bunch of questions," he said. "We're someone working with them to answer all those questions and come out with a great, positive result."

Mercy College, which pays for the PACT program out of its budget, plans to someday extend personal mentoring to all of its 10,000 students.