New program mentors first-generation Latinx students from rural communities | Virginia Tech News

New program mentors first-generation Latinx students from rural communities | Virginia Tech News

The call for mentors went out in August with simple criteria: Prospective mentors needed to be of Latinx descent with a genuine desire to help students complete their high school educations. Once mentors applied, they went through an interview process to confirm they were the right fit for the program and an orientation with mentoring tips and ways to navigate challenging conversations with their mentees.

“The dynamic between a mentor and a mentee is so important,” said mentor Andrea Mariscal-Guzman, a graduate student studying public administration. “Supporting high-risk and minority students and being there for them to help them get where they should be can make the biggest difference for their future.”    

Many of the mentors have connected with this program on a personal level. Not only does this project give them a chance to give back to their community, but it also allows them to connect with and support younger minority students who have similar upbringings and are experiencing the same challenges that they did when transitioning from high school to college.

“I wanted to show them that I am someone like them who got through the hurdles and opened up opportunities for myself and that they can absolutely do the same,” said mentor Jackie Chavez, a graduate student studying industrial engineering.

The program consists of monthly visits to the Virginia Tech and Galax campuses and weekly Zoom sessions between the mentors and mentees, where they can ask questions about each other and talk about life plans after high school and the resources available to get them there.  

“As a first-generation student from a rural area, it was rare to go to college, so I had to figure out everything as I went and I’m still finding out things that I wish I knew before college,” said mentor Neiver Morales Perez, a first-year student studying business management. “The resources may be out there, but having someone there to mention them would have helped me back then, so I want to be that person for the students now.”

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