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Moorpark College Launches Mentor Program to Aid Freshmen : Education: Experienced teachers will guide new students through first months on campus, in an effort to solidify their ties to learning.

August 27, 1993|CONSTANCE SOMMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A new mentoring program at Moorpark College will match first-semester students with experienced faculty members who can help guide them through the first months of school, officials said.

College officials hope to eventually pair up 70 first-year students with the 14 faculty members who volunteered their time this fall semester, said program coordinator Susan Izumo. The term started on Monday.

"Actually, it's an ancient concept, but a relatively new one for community colleges," Izumo said.

The college tried to target students who are the first in their family to go on to higher education, or who "don't have a clear goal academically or career-wise," Izumo said. The students were solicited at orientation, in financial-aid mailings and at registration, she said.

The program will mirror similar programs in place at Oxnard College and Ventura College, as well as other community colleges around the country, officials said.

So far, 50 students have signed up for the program, she said. Counselors are continuing to recruit as the school year gets under way.

Funding for the programs at the three colleges comes from federal grants aimed at encouraging students to stay in school, college officials said. Such grant monies must be spent on locally designed programs that boost student confidence, said Marcia Albert, coordinator of Oxnard's mentoring program.

Oxnard's program is heading into its second year, after administrators spent most of last year ironing out unanticipated problems, including a late start. College officials call it the MARS Project, short for Mentoring and Retaining Students.

But officials are hoping for a smoother run this fall.

"I'm really excited about our program this year," Albert said. "Mentoring is such a powerful thing." So far, she said, 25 faculty members have said they will participate.

At Ventura College, the program pairs up athletes with mentors who urge the students to study and graduate as well as excel at sports. College officials said the program, which was started about four years ago, has helped the school achieve one of the highest graduation and transfer rates for community college athletes in the state.

"The days of the dumb jock just going to school and playing ball don't make it anymore," said mentor David Robles, head of Ventura College's counseling department. "What we really stress to our students is getting that college education."

At Moorpark, mentors will meet with their proteges at least once a month, Izumo said. One mentor, student counselor Don Henderson, said he had already met with one of the four students assigned to him.

Henderson said he hopes to get students in touch with resources on campus.

"There's not a lot of tie-in identity to a campus like ours that doesn't have residence halls," Henderson said. "A mentor allows a tie-in that otherwise might not have happened. Otherwise, that student might have fallen through the cracks."

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