This 2020-2021 academic year serves as the inaugural year for the First-Year Peer Mentoring Program coordinated by both the Department of Chemistry and the Chemistry Graduate Student Organization (CGSO). This program was designed to help integrate and acclimate incoming first-year chemistry graduate students to a graduate career in the UGA Chemistry Department. It aims to serve first-year students primarily in three areas: graduate coursework, teaching assistantships, and selection of a research group/PhD committee. This program will also help develop important skills, such as professional development, leadership, and communication, for the graduate students who serve as mentors.
The First-Year Peer Mentoring Program allows for current graduate students in the Chemistry Department to use their graduate experience to advise and mentor an incoming first-year student mentee. The hope is that the mentor-mentee relationship would foster lasting connections past the mentee’s first year that are a beneficial resource to students throughout their graduate school career. Mentors are encouraged to meet up with their mentees on their own or at other CGSO events throughout the semester. We believe these interactions will provide opportunities for first-year students, mentors, and other graduate students to get to know each other and strengthen intradepartmental relationships. Through planned events and outside one-on-one interactions, the first-year students will be able to experience community within the department and have the support they need to successfully start to their graduate career.
There is a total of 30 participants this year - 15 first-year students paired (based off shared interests) with 15 older graduate student mentors, who represent research groups from all chemistry divisions. The mentors and mentees were able to meet and get to know each other at the Meet & Greet Picnic on August 28 which was held on the green next to the CCQC. An online trivia night was also held on Zoom for another opportunity for students involved to get to know one another in a relaxed environment.
CGSO’s role in the First-Year Peer Mentoring Program is to facilitate and coordinate the program in terms of pairing students, hosting events, and garnering program feedback. Graduate student mentor volunteers were crucial to the success of this first year of the program and their participation and effort will be invaluable to the first-year students.
It is exciting to see the impact this program has and will continue to have in the development and acclimation of first-year students to graduate school and the Chemistry Department! If you are interested in learning more or becoming involved in this program, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.