AISS Peer Mentoring Program

Goals of the Peer Mentoring Program

The goal of the American Indian Student Services Peer Mentor Program is to provide a welcoming and supportive environment to new students and an extended network of additional resources and information.

The over-arching goal is to ultimately increase and improve retention rates for American Indian students by pairing them with peers who are positive role models and who can assist with a successful transition to the University of Montana (UM) campus.

We will accomplish this goal by creating and connecting American Indian students who are currently registered UM students with new students; as well as further engage them in program activities.  

What is a Peer Mentor?

Mentors serve as positive role models by investing themselves in their students and uplifting students. Mentors encourage and motivate students to become their best. They offer students a pathway to expand their life perspectives, overcome obstacles and build on their strengths to make positive choices and develop essential school/life skills.

Effective mentoring can be an influential factor in a student’s success. Mentoring integrates the student and institution to foster:

  • Self-esteem
  • Affirmation of a “can-do” attitude
  • Orientation to The University of Montana
  • Access to information and resources

Mentors can be thought of as confidants, coaches, or door openers that assist students through the college maze. Good mentoring practices empower students by coaching and assisting students in nurturing and caring ways. Mentors help develop competencies such as organizational skills, coping skills, time management, and transition skills.

The Most Effective Mentors:

  • Welcome newcomers and take a personal interest in their academic and personal wellbeing.
  • Want to share their knowledge, materials and experience with those they mentor.
  • Offer support, enthusiasm, patience, and challenges while they guide students to a new level of competence.
  • Point the way and represent tangible evident of what can be done.

What Does a Mentor Do?

Mentors meet with their mentees regularly and support them throughout the semester to answer and help them understand the undergraduate “process.” Mentors provide support and serve as a source of motivation for their mentee. Especially important is the fact that mentors are just a phone call or email away and students can turn to their mentor when they don’t know where else to turn. Mentors emit the message “You are worth my time and effort because you are a valuable human being. I can offer you, by my work or deed or by the example of my life, ways to expand your horizons and to increase the likelihood that you will achieve success.”

Basic Guidelines Mentors can Follow Include:

  • Set up regular meeting times
  • Call the student on a regular basis
  • Invest time in the relationship
  • Be persistent, but not overbearing
  • Meet in open, friendly places
  • Assist with campus networking
  • Share your knowledge and insights and provide your mentee with honest, constructive criticism and informal feedback
  • Attend AISS activities/event together
  • Support your mentee’s interests and value the person as he/she is
  • Believe in your mentee’s abilities and support positive endeavors
  • Help your mentee problem-solve, but do not take you mentee’s problem(s) as your own. Be an ally and empathize, but allow them to resolve their own conflicts.
  • Be interested in your mentee’s life
  • Tell your mentee when he/she is doing well or trying hard
  • Make the relationship mutually beneficial
  • Listen without judgement, become aware of needs, feelings, and thoughts of your mentee and treat them with respect

What Doesn’t a Mentor Do?

Mentors are not academic advisors, tutors, or counselors. Mentors are not there to me a mentee’s “parent” while in school. Mentors do not engage in illegal activities (such as buying alcohol for a mentee). And most importantly, mentors are not expected to know everything.