Have a campus question? Student mentors have answers.

September 2, 2022

Wolverine Mentor Collective matches students with peer mentors who have similar goals and interests to help navigate campus resources, professional opportunities and more.

Photo of students, who are also Office of Student Life student employees, at Wolverine Welcome Day.

When Sara Sandiha first started college, she knew two things. One: She wanted to be a dentist. And two: She wasn’t exactly sure how to become one.

“I was super nervous to start college and was worried that I wouldn’t be knowledgeable about the opportunities that are available for me,” said Sandiha, now a sophomore. “So I signed up to get a mentor through the Wolverine Mentor Collective. It was nice to have someone I could reach out to whenever I needed help during my first year of college.”

The Wolverine Mentor Collective (Wolverine MC), managed by Experience+ and the Office of Student Life, is a campus mentoring program that helps students get familiar with campus life. Each person who signs up takes a survey and is then matched with a student mentor who has personal, academic or identity-related similarities — and most often a combination of all three. Interested students can sign up.

Associate Provost Maureen Linker said that, with college being a journey of sorts, it’s important to have a navigation system. That’s why UM-Dearborn started the Wolverine Mentor Collective last year. During its first year, nearly 600 incoming students were partnered with 140 continuing student mentors.

“Given that we were welcoming in a group of first- and second-year students who had not had any on-campus classes (due to the pandemic), the university wanted to create a robust peer mentoring program to foster a sense of connectedness and belonging for these students,” Linker said. “Our students have had such a positive experience that we looked for ways to expand the program to benefit more of our UM-Dearborn student population.”

This fall Wolverine MC adds two areas of expertise. 

  • Professional networking: juniors are matched with a UM-Dearborn alum who can help with career readiness and exploration
  • Grad student: first-year graduate students are matched with either a second-year graduate student or a UM-Dearborn alum to learn more about life at UM-Dearborn and make connections in an industry they are interested in pursuing.

Experience+ Executive Director Laurie Sutch said campus is rich with resources and opportunities. But for students to know about what’s available, there needs to be outreach. And the Wolverine MC is one way the university does it.

“We have wonderful professors, academic advisers and other key people on campus here to help, but students often want to reach out to other students or recent graduates for advice,” Sutch said. “The Wolverine MC provides these connections when you first get to campus and throughout your time at UM-Dearborn.”

Sandiha, a Biological Sciences major on a pre-dental track, said she learned how to efficiently make the best class schedule, thanks to her mentor. “There’s an online schedule planner where you can put the hours you are available to take classes and it automatically generates a bunch of possible class schedules to choose from. It’s saved me so much time.”

And, as Sandiha continues toward her future dental career, she’ll reach out to her mentor when it comes to navigating the university’s pre-professional track (pre-med, pre-dental, etc.) and prepare for the standardized testing needed for graduate school.

Sandiha said her mentor made such a difference in her first year that she’s signed up to mentor incoming students starting this fall.

“I always had a peer that was only a text away. My mentor had already been in my shoes, so I knew she’d have the best advice for me,” she said. “I got so much out of this program. Now I’m looking forward to guiding incoming freshmen so they can have the best college experience possible.”

Interested in becoming a mentor? Applications are on-going and training, along with a small monetary stipend for those who meet the requirements, is provided.

Article by Sarah Tuxbury.