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This past March, two of CAMD’s academic advisors gave a presentation on the college’s peer mentoring program at the NACADA Region 1 Conference in Manchester, New Hampshire. The presentation, titled “Mentors: The Friend Maker” and given by Maggie Loscuito and Alison Ottaviano, first touched on the program’s genesis as a pilot in two departments in January 2014.

“The inspiration for the peer mentor program came from working with students over the past few years and hearing that in their first year they were having trouble adjusting,” said Maggie. “They didn’t know how to connect to campus and to Boston. As someone who also remembers my own first year experiences, I knew I would have benefited from a mentoring program. Even just to learn about places to check out on campus, or the best places to study.”

Next, Maggie and Alison related their experiences with the college-wide roll out in the Fall 2014 semester and all the planning, budgeting, hiring, training, and assessment as well as the expansion of the program to include components that seek to address the unique needs of our expanding international student population.

“As advisors, our reach to most students is very focused on academics,” said Alison. “As a result, few students really feel comfortable talking to us about issues outside of their academics. By working with the peer mentors, the new students have a resource that they potentially feel more comfortable with.”

Their presentation was so well received at the NACADA Region 1 Conference that Alison and Maggie clinched an invitation to give their presentation at the NACADA National Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada this coming October. The NACADA National Conference attracts an attendance of over 3,000 academic advisors annually from across the United States as well as internationally.

Maggie and Alison have stayed busy this summer hiring a new crop of peer mentors for the Fall 2015 semester, retooling the training program, and further expanding the number of activities planned for the semester.

“We have been lucky to work with some wonderful departments and professors who are enthusiastic about the program and enjoy working with the peer mentors in their classroom,” said Alison. “We had one international student in particular last year who was struggling with adjustment. We were able to connect her with a peer mentor in her class, they struck up a great friendship and the new student has signed up to be an international peer mentor for the current semester!”