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Peer Mentoring, Service Learning Helps First-Year Students Adjust to Campus Life

lol-web-7Peer mentoring groups at Hiram College, Strive for Pi and Ohio Campus Compact’s Connect2Complete, sponsored a fundraising event Oct. 31, that helped students learn leadership and event planning skills while supporting the Locks of Love organization.

The event, “Get Hooked-Up Day for Locks of Love,” provided salon services to Hiram College students, faculty and staff. Services included haircuts, facial hair trims, manicures, eyelashes and cornrows from professional stylists and barbers within the Kent, Aurora and Streetsboro area,s who volunteered their time and talents to help others. All proceeds went to Locks of Love, a nonprofit that relies on donated ponytails and funds to provide hairpieces to children who suffer from alopecia areata, radiation therapy, severe burns and chemotherapy.

Through the Strive for Pi and Connect to Complete programs peer mentoring helps first year students adapt to college life and achieve academic and social success. Through volunteer experiences like this one, students are exposed to community engagement and service learning, which help them build connections across campus. The mentees and mentor/advocates ran the event by decorating the area, directing traffic flow, collecting money and cleaning up.

LaRe’shea Hunter ’14, a sociology major, is one of 20 upperclassmen who have been mentoring freshmen this academic year. She has one freshman mentee who she regularly checks in with to talk about life at home, life at Hiram and academics.

“I decided to become a peer mentor because I know what the struggle is as a freshman,” she said. “I want to help guide freshmen past that, and let them know that even though you may fall behind, you can still overcome it. I like helping others, so it’s a fulfillment.”

Alan Fink ’17, one of the freshmen in the program, said having a peer mentor helps him feel comfortable as his life and responsibilities change.

“I wanted somebody to be there when I had questions,” he said. “We’re in this transition of being supposed to be on our own, but it’s nice to have someone who will look after you. That’s what this program provides.”

Alicia Jefferson, Connect2Complete program coordinator, said the mentors and mentees plan to host another event like this one in the spring.

Photos by Alan Fink ’17. View more on Flickr.

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