Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Since 1907
Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

New mentoring program created to support AHANA students

Khayree Williams is the associate dean for multicultural student development. Photo by John Muyskens.

The Multicultural Student Development Office (MSDO) created a new mentoring program for Asian, Hispanic/Latino, African and Native American (AHANA) students. The mentor and mentee program, otherwise known as M&M, gives older AHANA students the opportunity to mentor one or two first-year AHANA students.

Although the MSDO has conducted mentoring programs in the past, the M&M program is set to relaunch Friday, Jan. 16. After this year, the M&M program will begin every fall. This year, however, the start date was pushed back to spring semester due to set-up time and the mentor application process.

According to Khayree Williams, assistant dean for multicultural student development, the mission of the M&M program is “to support all students, but especially students of color, in their critical years to ensure that they are able to stay here at Calvin and be successful.”

“Part of the purpose behind the program is that we know and understand that the research shows that for students of color, the freshman year is one of the most pivotal years,” said Williams. “It determines whether or not they will return for the second year.”

Williams referred to a recent Chimes article regarding the retention rate for AHANA students. Currently, Calvin’s retention rate for AHANA students is 75.9 percent, the lowest it has been in 10 years. He hopes that the M&M program will encourage AHANA students to stay at Calvin and give them the support they need to feel successful and be a part of the Calvin community.

“We know and realize we are attracting students of color to this institution, but not a lot of them are staying,” added Williams. “Our goal is more to make sure they are staying. We do a lot of great things to get them here but we don’t necessarily support them in the same way once they are here, and that’s what we are trying to change.”

Williams believes that both mentors and mentees can benefit from the M&M program. Mentors will grow in their understanding of helping other people while also learning necessary life skills, and mentees will receive encouragement and friendship from a fellow student.

The M&M program is especially important to Williams because he found himself in a similar situation when he was a student. He attended Grand Valley State University (GVSU), a predominantly white institution, and found himself looking to transfer after just one semester. “In my business hall, out of 300 people, there were only two other people of color,” Williams recalled.

However he met a fellow student that acted as a mentor and he believes because of her, he was able to feel more comfortable and stay at GVSU. He hopes the M&M program will do the same for students at Calvin.

In order for an AHANA student to become a mentor, he or she would need to meet the required qualifications of being an upperclassman, being in good academic standing, must know about the campus and be able to offer their knowledge to a new student. AHANA students can apply to be a mentor online at the MSDO Calvin webpage.

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