Strategic Plan Spotlight: The Promise Group

At the SJSU Lurie College of Education, we prepare transformative educators, counselors, therapists, school and community leaders. We do this through an emancipatory approach across our teaching, scholarship, and service.  The Lurie College Promise Group was established to create opportunities for first-generation students and those who are part of the SJSU Spartan Scholars, Guardian Scholars, or Educational Opportunity Program to participate in a year-long personal, academic, and professional development experience.  Lurie College staff member Ana Paz-Rangel recently interviewed staff member Sarah Arreola, who served as a mentor for Child and Adolescent Development student Trini Ruiz.  Read the full interview below.

SJSU Lurie College of Education Promise Group Trini Ruiz Sarah Arreola

Can you tell share some of your mentorship experience through the Promise Group?

When Donna reached out to me, I was excited and nervous at the same time. Nervous because I hoped I’d meet the Student Success Center’s expectations. The exciting part was mentoring a Lurie College student and being able to support them.

My mentee’s name was Trini. She was delightful, had a certain energy, and I saw that she was motivated. Each time we met, I started with the question “what can I help you with today?” One day, Trini was nervous to take the CBEST and to address that, we applied together.

We also discussed Trini’s long-term goals. One time, Trini discovered she needed to take an additional class, but didn’t have room in her schedule or the budget for a class at SJSU. We ultimately found a solution by exploring similar courses at Evergreen College. Trini wasn’t aware of the process for enrolling at a community college so I assisted her through this process.

Were there any challenges working with your mentee?

Trini was first gen and didn’t have support from her family around approaching difficult situations at the university level. For example, if you’re struggling in a class, how do you approach the faculty? Trini started attending office hours and became comfortable initiating that. The challenge was not having someone show her how to navigate the university system. I felt very fortunate to be that person for her.

Did your mentee have any “wins” during her time with the Promise Group?

One of Trini’s biggest wins was being offered two jobs before graduating. Trini prepared so much. I helped her prepare for her interviews and she ultimately accepted a position with the Boys & Girls Club as Director of Teen Services.

Another win for Trini was the relationships she developed with other mentees and with me as her mentor. She was able to establish close relationships that could last a lifetime. To this day, she and I are still in touch. I think it was a win to not only have me as a mentor to assist her with her college experience, but also to have colleagues going through the same experiences.

How did this experience impact you? Did you have a mentor when you were in school, either as an undergraduate or graduate student? Do you see mentorship differently having been a mentor yourself now?

As an undergrad, I didn’t have a mentor or the guidance I wish I had. However, I had it more as a graduate student as well as with my co-workers, my sister, family, and my managers. Having experienced both, not having one and then so many, I definitely see the benefits of undergrads having a mentor.
For these reasons, if anyone in our college, staff or faculty, is offered the opportunity to be a mentor by Donna, I would recommend seriously considering it because it opened so many doors for me. Having had this experience of giving back to the college has given me more purpose.

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