The Ascender/Catch the Next program at ACC is a college readiness and completion organization empowering students to catch their college and career dreams. Students receive accelerated instruction in English and Math, academic counseling, writing assistance, and one-on-one mentoring by ACC employees.
The program, originally called Puente, is in its fifth year and recently matched up 130 students with mentors for the fall semester.
Judy Arriaga, ACC Business Operations analyst, was an Ascender mentor last year and returned again this year to support another student.
We asked her why she signed up and what tips she has about being a good mentor. Read her response below.
Being a good mentor is important, and the mentee's success is gratifying. As a first-generation college student myself, I understand the importance of having someone you can go to and rely upon for assistance and guidance. When I first attended college, I had questions about the resources that were available, such as financial aid, scholarships, tutoring, advising, and even course scheduling.
Having one person who a mentee can contact and get information about all available resources or get overall support can reduce the stress and anxiety..
For example, last year I realized my mentee had not applied for financial aid. The student was working a lot of hours and attending school full-time. I scheduled a time for us to meet, and I walked them through the financial aid application. Together, we visited the Financial Aid Office so they knew the exact next steps needed to complete the process. In the end, my mentee got financial aid for that semester as well as the following spring and summer semesters. It helped them to reduce their work hours and focus on their courses.
I believe it is important to check-in with my mentee on a regular basis and ask them specific questions. Asking how things are going is not going to always get the details. Instead I ask questions in relation to their courses. I become familiar with the course syllabi so I know when there are exams and important deadlines. Outside of the student's courses, I ask them how they are managing the personal life (work and other outside obligations). It is important to look at all aspects of your mentee's life, not just their courses.
Recently, I was asked by my mentee how they could have a social life while working and going to school. A lot of the student's friends are attending college outside of Austin or not in college at all. I suggested they make friends with other students in their courses and within the Ascender Program. This allows the student to have a social life, but in a positive way and hopefully enrich their overall college experience.
Learn more about ASCENDER/Catch the Next program here.