Student Teams Dive into Challenge of Designing New Mentoring Networks

Their Mission: Develop Detailed Plans to Support Incoming Students with Transition to College

Hartford, CT, January 22, 2014 – On Monday, while most students were busy settling back into residence halls and getting prepared for Tuesday’s official start of the spring semester, 60 Trinity students spent their day focused on the new mentoring networks program that they are helping to design for future Trinity students.

The 60 students, organized into five teams participating in a design challenge running through early March, have begun a process of developing detailed plans to meet the four goals that President Berger-Sweeney announced for the new mentoring networks program to achieve: 1) connect students to their peers, creating an immediate sense of belonging; 2) strengthen mentoring of students outside the classroom, inspiring them to cultivate knowledge; 3) connect students to Hartford, equipping them to take advantage of our city’s offerings; and 4) prepare students for life by developing engaged, civically minded persons.

On Monday, the teams of students, along with members of the President’s Cabinet who have been assigned to the teams as sponsors, dove into a packed agenda. Additional Trinity faculty and staff members participated for part of the day, providing expertise on different aspects of the program design challenge. Shepherding the day’s activities were Interim Dean of Students Christopher Card and Associate Academic Deans Sonia Cardenas and Richard Prigodich.

President Berger-Sweeney helped to welcome the group, thanking the participants for the important part they will have in creating “a mentoring program for students, designed by students.”

Social Science Research and Data Coordinator Rachael Barlow shared an analysis of data from student surveys conducted by Trinity’s Office of Institutional Research, providing a wealth of information about how students at different stages of their Trinity careers have felt included or out of place at Trinity.

Breakout workshops throughout the afternoon addressed the following topics, with Trinity faculty and staff members serving as panelists and facilitators: “Best Practices in Peer Mentoring,” “Understanding Student Engagement and Leadership,” “Connecting to Hartford: Successful Ventures,” “Community & Wellness,” and “Designing Student Spaces.”

Molly Thoms 17, one of the students participating in the design challenge,  said, “Its wonderful to have the opportunity to shape the Trinity experience for future students by reflecting on what has made mine so positive in the last year and a half.”

Preliminary plans for the mentoring networks program call for all incoming students, beginning with the Class of 2019 that will arrive in August, to be assigned to one of five mentoring networks. Key features of the networks will be self-governance, opportunities for leadership, programs on campus and in Hartford, intramurals, mentoring, and service.

Each network will comprise about 120 first-year students who live in Jones, Elton, Jackson, Wheaton, Smith, North, and Funston. A central space for the mentoring networks, which will be located on the basement level of Mather Hall, will allow students to prepare meals, eat together, and talk in comfortable lounge spaces.

Support for each network will be given by a team composed of a dean, faculty mentors, a Trinsition fellow (a recent liberal arts college graduate), upper-level student peer mentors, career development mentors, and wellness mentors. Additionally, plans are under way to involve alumni and parents of current students, with professional architecture and design experience, as members of each design team and as a general resource to all the teams.

View more photos from the design challenge retreat.