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McGill House to begin mentoring program for incoming first-years

A poster in McGill supplies first-years with information about each mentor. (credit: Courtney Wittekind/News Editor ) A poster in McGill supplies first-years with information about each mentor. (credit: Courtney Wittekind/News Editor )

“I can’t wait to ment!” Ashley Brienza, a sophomore in CIT, exclaimed in passing, a simple sign of the anticipation the once-disjoint McGill House community has for its newest program.

McGill, Carnegie Mellon’s only all-female dormitory, is encouraging female empowerment through a group that has been six months in the making. The separation that existed between the upperclassman floor and the two floors of first-years in the past is looking to be broken as nine upperclassmen have been chosen to live in McGill as part of a new mentoring program called “Sparkle.”

These nine mentors — eight sophomores and one junior — started the planning process with the house staff in April to come up with a vision for the relationships to be fostered in the McGill community.
Sophomore psychology major Jenny Patel, the resident assistant for the third floor and supervisor of the McGill Mentor program, described the vision of the new program.

“McGill is a community focused on empowerment through confidence. By building positive relationships between the girls, the mentors hope to establish a sense of ‘can do’ in these women, aiding in the transition into college and helping to promote positive interaction and involvement by McGill as a whole,” she said.

The mentors returned to school early to organize events and to meet the first-years in their Orientation environment. Several mentors joined in first-year floor meetings and discussions, anxious to meet the women of McGill, while attending their own mentor meetings daily.

These early congregations involved organizing a service event with a fun kindergarten theme, juice boxes and animal crackers included, and creating a questionnaire to be used for matching residents with a particular mentor with whom they can develop the best personal and working relationship.

This past Saturday, after a series of more formal introductions, the surveys were offered to the first-years on the first and second floors who wished to be paired with a mentor. Almost every resident present picked up a form, to the great pleasure of the mentors. These applications are due today and will then be hand-matched by the McGill staff.

Sophomore social and decision sciences major Nicole DiMascio expressed her enthusiasm. “I’m really excited to get to know these girls on a personal level instead of just being a casual housemate,” she said.

As a way to help the residents get to know the mentors, a large poster has been placed in the stairwell with pictures and detailed information on each mentor, from major, hometown, and club involvement to fun facts and favorite foods. The first-years of the community have had a great deal of fun with this poster, finding mentors with whom to have Razzy Fresh excursions or spend an evening watching Jane Austen movies.

“I’m really excited to get a mentor. It will be a good experience for us freshmen to have someone to talk to, not just each other, who is more experienced with the school, the campus, and general social experiences. It will help make the transition much easier,” said Leslie Sainz, a first-year in H&SS who lives on the second floor.

As much as the McGill Mentors program is about building pride and a sense of community within the house, the mentors are also hoping to have an impact both on the Carnegie Mellon community as well as the greater Pittsburgh region through service projects with their mentees and global focuses of their programming.