At the end of this academic year, the PARDner program and the Peer Mentor program for athletes will merge to become one.
“Rather than having parallel programs for athletes and non-athletes, we will have a comprehensive peer mentoring/advising system for all students that takes into account the transition issues of all first year students,” First Year Class Dean and Dean of Advising and Co-curricular Programs Brandon Morris.
Last year, the PARDner Program was introduced for incoming first year and second year students. PARDners advise these students on their transition to college life and how to handle their academics. The Peer Mentor program pairs first year varsity athletes with an athlete upperclassmen who advises them on issues having to do with their academics, their sport, and time management between the two.
Morris said that the merge will hopefully strengthen the academic advising that the Peer Mentors can provide.
“Aside from the Peer Mentors work with the athletes there are not many differences between the two programs,” he said. “An important piece that we will be strengthening from this merger is the work that the Peer Mentors are doing in regards to academic workshops for their first year student athletes.”
This year the PARDners and Peer Mentors underwent training together over the summer for the first time. Julia Sullivan ’18 is a PARDner and said she had a good experience at training.
“Most of the training was applicable to both groups, and when it was necessary we split up to participate in separate groups,” she said.
Sullivan said that she thinks it’s important both athletes and non-athletes be given the same opportunities in terms of academic assistance, but that athletes should still be mentored by athletes.
“Peer mentors should be assigned athlete mentees and PARDners should be assigned non-athletes,” in order for both to get the most out of the relationship as possible, she said.
Maddy Bowles ’18, a Peer Mentor, agreed that it’s important athletes work with athletes.
“We understand each other’s time demands, life balance, stresses due to athletics and transition into NCAA Division 1 athletics,” she said.
However, Bowles also said that training together and merging as one program could be beneficial for everyone.
“We are both resources to first-year students, so we should share the same message with our mentees,” she added.
Junior field hockey player Rosie Shanks said she is more wary of the merge.
“I do believe that you can’t really mesh the two together because with the athletics it is so time consuming,” she said.
Shanks added that athletes have to structure their daily lives in a way than non-athlete students don’t. Varsity athletes have less time to devote to homework, and so have to allocate their time more carefully than a non-athlete may have to, she said.
Morris said he is aware of these concerns.
“As we move forward to plan the logistics of the program the Advising and Athletics Offices will be relying on student focus groups comprised of Peer Mentors and PARDners to provide feedback-slash-suggestions about the connections we hope to make,” he said.
“Student input in this endeavor will be incredibly important to us,” he added. “We want their voices to be heard and their suggestions implemented.”