When Treta Vyas visited Humber during an Open House four years ago, she was impressed with the Bachelor of Nursing program’s simulation labs.
“I got a tour with other nursing students. I was really fascinated by the labs and even the dummies we would get to practice on,” said Vyas, now in her third year of the program.
“I thought, wow, this is the place I want to be and graduate from.”
She was excited to start, but her nerves made her uneasy.
Vyas was shy when she returned to campus for her first day. Her family immigrated to Canada just a few years before and she was the first to attend post-secondary school in the country.
The large campus intrigued but intimidated her. For the first few weeks, she arrived a few minutes before her classes and left the grounds right after they finished.
Then, she received an email from First Year Experience (FYE), circulated to all incoming students, explaining that peer mentors were available for support.
“I signed up. Having a peer mentor was great because she was in my program but in her third year. She would reach out to me every week, tell me about events and workshops and fun stuff around campus as well as Humber services,” said Vyas.
“She personally gave me a guided tour of the library and it made me think that I might be comfortable and want to study here. Ever since then, the library became my second home. I wouldn’t leave until 10:30 p.m. and would only come home to sleep!”
Vyas signed up to be a peer mentor herself the next year. Going into the Winter 2021 semester, she is working as a Senior Peer Mentor, overseeing mentor/mentee relationships at the college and offering support to others in the program.
Strong connections, smooth transition
Mentees are introduced to the FYE program during Orientation and International Orientation. Many of the students participating in the FYE program are matched with mentors in the same program or similar programs. International or mature students are paired with others of similar backgrounds and experiences. Most mentors are matched to 10 mentees.
“It’s really comforting to have a go-to person – your first friend on campus, really,” said Joanne Cerdan, Student Life coordinator for First Year Experience.
Cerdan participated in a mentorship program in her first year of post-secondary education.
“My mentor was the one who told me about counseling. Having that first connection to be able to confide in with your concerns is important. You have someone to validate the experience you’re going through.”
Online learning, explained
First-day jitters may be amplified this year because of online and virtual course delivery, but the mentors are prepared.
Some of the mentors Cerdan works with have been holding video chats once a week to discuss things like work-integrated learning and placement experiences. The mentors offer tips on how to get the most out of those experiences, online.
The program draws on the experience of mentees-turned-mentors to deliver the events and workshops new students need. FYE also helps mentees connect with each other through facilitating meetings between mature students, international students and other groups.
“It can be really difficult for [international] students learning online in their home country to keep track of the times of their classes. Some students have another clock in their room showing Eastern time so they can keep track. They share these ideas in video chats and those small pieces of advice are so helpful,” said Cerdan.
Both mentees and mentors receive credits toward their Co-Curricular Records (CCR) for skills learned outside the classroom that contribute to employability skills.
Any incoming student who is interested in being paired with a mentor can apply to FYE at any time during the school year. It may take a few weeks for a suitable mentor to be found, but the staff and volunteers in the program make sure that everyone is connected to another student who can guide them through their first year at Humber.
You can learn more about FYE here and by following First Year Experience on Instagram: @HumberLakeFYE and @HumberNorthFYE
To reach the FYE team, email email@example.com