Monday, November 25, 2013

Connect-U, Peer Mentoring at OU

Update May 28, 2014
ConnectU is a mentorship program at the University of Oklahoma that pairs new students with upperclassmen to provide each individual student with tools and resources to maximize success at OU.

Mentors can quickly provide consistency in the incoming students’ experience as well as introduce them to all opportunities at OU that they might not be able to find on their own. 

This student-led program chiefly communicates via social media, the preference of college students. Mentors, who also receive ongoing tips online, learn about their roles, good mentor characteristics, activity suggestions, possible mentee challenges, and ameliorating actions.

Applications: (Worth reviewing!)


Connect-U brings personalized mentoring to new students

Reagan Martin, The Oklahoma Daily 7:42 p.m. November 19, 2013

Photo by Reagan Martin
(Right) Ryan Shoemaker, an energy management sophomore and Connect-U campus liaison, and Emily Desantis, a visual communications sophomore and Connect-U Chair, pose with OU Men's Basketball coach, Lon Krueger. Connect-U mentors and mentees took a group tour of the Lloyd Noble Center on Tuesday.


WHAT: Orange Leaf Meet-Up
WHEN: 3-4:30 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Orange Leaf at 1808 W. Lindsey

Apply for Connect-U
Those interested can fill out applications for mentors and mentees online on the Connect-U Facebook.

New Sooners wanting to learn the ins and outs of campus life from someone who has already experienced it can join Connect-U, a new mentoring program this semester.
Founded by Emily DeSantis, fine art visual communications sophomore, and Dillon Brown, religious studies junior, Connect-U is a mentoring program that matches new freshmen and transfer students with upperclassmen.

DeSantis and Brown came up with the idea for Connect-U in the spring when they were reminiscing about their various freshman year experiences in greek life and the President’s Leadership Class. Both loved the positive interaction in their different activities—especially the opportunity they had to network with other students.
“We wanted to make something that anyone could be apart of,” said Brown, vice chair and co-founder of Connect-U.

Upperclassmen Connect-U mentors give advice and hang out with their mentees, and the pairs are expected to contact each other twice a month to meet for coffee or talk, Brown said.
“We want Connect-U to be something that you look forward to—not see it as an obligation.”

The organization took part in a group tour of the Lloyd Noble Center on Tuesday for mentors and mentees and will have an Orange Leaf meet-up on Sunday for members and nonmembers.
However, the founders are discovering the hardship of getting members to actually participate in a new campus organization.

“We don’t have the name recognition yet, like other organizations. We have had to rely on our advertising and word-of-mouth,” DeSantis said.
Despite its newness, Desantis said they have received many applications from students who they and other members did not know.

With 68 pairings, Brown said he wants to keep the mentoring one-on-one.
“We want our mentors to get to know one mentee pretty well rather than kind of know several mentees,” Brown said.

Ryan Shoemaker, an energy management sophomore and Connect-U campus liaison, joined the organization because of his experience during his freshman year.
“When I first came to OU, I didn’t know that many people on campus. I found people who had the same interests as me and served as my mentors,” Shoemaker said.

He said he thinks it is essential that people who are new to OU have a mentor to help them out.
“I wanted to help out,” he said.

Miranda Laurion, an environmental sustainability junior, and her mentee, Christina Hamilton, a geophysics freshman from Trinidad, joined the program for different reasons.
Hamilton said she got an email to join the organization, and since she was new to Oklahoma she thought it would be a good idea.

Laurion said she joined because her roommate is on the program’s exec committee.
“I thought it would be a fun thing to do because I don’t know many underclassmen, and I thought I could show them around,” Laurion said.

Other students, like Bethany Mulanax, joined after being encouraged by upperclassmen.
“My Camp Crimson SGLs told me to get involved, so when I got the email I thought it would be good way to do that,” said Mulanax, a health and exercise science freshmen.

Brown said he hopes Connect-U will grow next year by having more applicants, having more organization-wide events and receiving funding from the Student Government Association.
With extra funding, Brown said he will be able to get a new database to match mentors with mentees and also fund more Connect-U events.

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