By Holly Beretto
December 1, 2017
Thanks in part to the success of its industry mentorship program, which matches Rice Center for Engineering Leadership students with professional engineers, RCEL begins accepting applications this week for its student mentorship program. The goal is to connect freshman and sophomore engineering students with juniors and seniors.
“The driving force behind this is that as freshman and sophomores are trying to figure out their time here at Rice, the choices they make early on affect their future,” said Constantine Tzouanas, a junior bioengineering major and part of RCEL’s mentorship committee. “With the Peer-2-Peer mentor program, we can pair underclassman in the major with upperclassman to help them make those fundamental decisions, not only about why one course may be a better option than another, but also about extracurricular activities and majors, as well as internships or research.”
“We found that when we opened up applications for our industry mentorship program, upperclassman wanted to sign up to be mentors,” said Charlene Pan, also a junior and bioengineering major and member of the mentorship committee. “So we know that some people are already to motivated to be part of this.”
Both Pan and Tzouanas point out that they want the program to strike a balance between being structured and flexible. Meeting for a coffee can be just as valuable as sitting together, poring over the course listing, determining which classes might be best to pursue. While ideally, students would be matched by their majors, the pair concede that numbers may not allow for that.
“But I think there is just as much benefit to be gained from students who might not share a major but are both involved in RCEL,” said Pan.
“I like the fact that the mentorship committee took the initiative as student leaders to create a program to share their wisdom learned in RCEL and their experiences with underclassmen, so they in turn can maximize their time in RCEL and better the overall Rice experience,” said Kazimir Karwowski, RCEL executive director.
Applications for the program open on Friday, December 8 and can be accessed through the RCEL website. Matches should be complete by the first weekend of the spring semester, giving students a full semester to work together before course registration and major declarations have to happen later in the spring. Tzouanas said there will be some sort of kickoff mixer event, and that the mentorship committee plans to check in with the pairs throughout the semester, offering tips about topics that might be timely.
And both say they are looking forward to signing up as mentors themselves.