Issue 435: 10 / 8 / 2012

Mentors and Mentees Pair-up for the Fall 2012 SMARTS Program

Mentors listen to a presentation ...

Mentors listen to a presentation by Dr. Cynthia Calhoun (upper front center) during the FAll 2012 SMARTS Mentor Orientation.

When the call went out for mentors almost two years ago, the Southwest family rallied to support SMARTS (Southwest Mentors Advancing Retention, Teamwork, and Success), and has continued to strongly back the program ever since. SMARTS matches students with faculty/staff mentors who work in departments closely related to the students’ interests. Mentors provide career advice and guidance to students in developing and formulating attainable academic and career goals. The Fall 2012 SMARTS Mentor Orientation was held on September 21 at the Macon Cove Campus.

The Office of Retention and Graduation, under which the SMARTS Program is governed, disseminated mentor toolkits and its executive director, Dr. Cynthia Calhoun, presented an overview of the program’s criteria along with mentors' responsibilities.

Launched in the spring of 2011, SMARTS partners faculty/staff mentors with student mentees to form support teams whose goal is to increase access to college-level education, academic program completion, and student involvement with faculty, staff and peers. Throughout the semester mentors and mentees interact, engaging students in the development of social relationships and connecting them to college programs and activities.

Clearly, SMARTS provides huge dividends for mentees. However, faculty/staff mentors find it equally satisfying. Eighty-six percent of the Fall 2012 mentors are returning for a second or third semester. The payoff is remarkable − many of them see it as a way to make a difference in students’ lives and support the college’s "Student Persistence" endeavor.

"Serving as a SMARTS’s mentor has brought real joy to my life. Under the leadership of Dr. Cynthia Calhoun the program has been very beneficial to the mentees. As a mentor, I have been able to direct my mentees to other programs on campus, to establish high rapport, to teach time management, and to be there for any need that arises in the semester. I encourage faculty and staff to be a part of this great endeavor," said Assistant Professor of Languages and Literature Patricia Ward.

Executive Director of Information Technology Services Michael Boyd expressed his sentiments saying, “The SMARTS program is a great opportunity to build a partnership between the mentor and mentee. I have been a mentor since SMARTS began and I have enjoyed seeing the students succeed in their classes and in life." He added, "The students have someone to help them, as well as hold them accountable. Just this past semester, I was able to help my mentee, who had reached the maximum hours for her financial aid, get a scholarship so that she could stay in school and graduate. If we had not built our relationship via SMARTS, she might not have called me and let me know of her dilemma. I encourage everyone to get involved in SMARTS. The relationships could last a lifetime.”

For more information on how you can become a mentor, contact the Office of Retention and Graduation at either 901-333-4265 (Macon Cove Campus) or 901-333-5950 (Union Avenue Campus).

View 2012 Fall SMARTS Program photo gallery.