(Cabrillo College’s Mentor Program pairs students with faculty to help guide them through their college experience. Contributed photo)

APTOS — Cabrillo College’s fall semester begins Monday, and the school is currently preparing its new faculty and staff to participate in its newly-formed Mentor Program.

Launched in 2016, the opt-in, volunteer Mentor Program aims to make a positive impact on the lives of Cabrillo’s students by pairing them with faculty and staff during their enrollment.

Mentors can offer classroom guidance, personal direction, resource information and career direction, becoming a “bridge” for the students to help them navigate the college experience. Mentors may fulfill a number of roles, such as soundboards, coaches, supporters, career resources, relationship drivers and teachers.

“Research by Ernest Pascarella finds that mentoring for students in college helps students to feel more connected and engaged on campus, which can ultimately improve student outcomes,” said Sue Gochis, Cabrillo’s Vice President of Student Services. “In our first couple years of the Mentor Program at Cabrillo, we’ve experienced that — students have improved retention after the first semester, and we’re seeing better grades and improved graduation rates, in addition to higher motivation levels and improved self-esteem.”

“The Mentor Program is brilliant — it is challenging to want more for yourself when there is no one to look up to or to guide you along the way, and this is exactly what my mentor has done for me,” said Yesenia Rocha Rocha, a student mentee. “Being a part of the Mentor Program has not only helped me academically, but has also inspired me to be a mentor one day with hopes of changing young students’ lives in helping them reach their goals.”

Cabrillo also hopes to give its mentors themselves satisfaction from their participation in the program.

“I have gotten so much more out of mentoring than I ever imagined,” said Matthew Halter, Cabrillo Mentor Program director and biology instructor. “I have been honored to meet such bright, eager, enthusiastic and engaging students and each year, I have enjoyed the interaction as much as I hope they have.”

During the 2017-18 academic year, Cabrillo had 39 mentors and 49 mentees. Since its inception in the 2015-16 school year, approximately 100 students have participated in the Mentor Program. Mentor orientations are currently underway for Cabrillo faculty, staff and retirees for the 2018-19 academic year.

The Mentor Program will be made available for incoming students to sign up at the “Seahawks Take Flight” New Student Orientation on Thursday.

Current or returning students can visit cabrillo.edu/services/studserv/Mentor.html for information about the Cabrillo Mentor Program, or they may contact Gochis in the Cabrillo Student Services Office at 479-6527.

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