One day while scrolling LinkedIn, I happened upon a post by my alma mater, Boston College, featuring a new mentoring program, MentorOn. This program was founded by Professor Belle Liang and her students in partnership with local highschool students. This program has taken amazing advantage of e-mentoring to address the needs of youth during the pandemic, which has enabled some amazing relationships. The college students are mostly volunteers from Boston College, and the majority of the high schoolers come from Lexington High School. However, the middle schoolers taking part in the program come from all over, and there are even participants as far as Mumbai!
This program has a small twist compared to other similar peer-to-peer mentoring. The college students run the program and supervise the mentors. Together, Professor Liang and the BC students select and train mentors. They created MentorOn using a tiered approach, where middle school students receive mentoring from college and high school students. Peer-to-peer mentoring programs such as this one not only provide role models for the younger participants, but also teach maturity and valuable leadership skills. Additionally, including a wide array of participants creates a diversified program, which can go a long way in developing empathy and compassion between those involved.
Professor Liang emphasized the power of relationships during the pandemic: “relationships are hard for kids… the emphasis is on helping these kids feel cared for.” The routine associated with regularly meeting with a mentor can have amazing results on the mental wellbeing for developing youth. During the quarantine, the social value of this time has become indispensable, particularly for many young people who have only been interacting with their family. “Magic is happening. Kids are laughing. It’s a freedom you see on a playground with friends,” Liang remarked.
So far, the program has seen a tremendous start. When I talked to Professor Liang, they had a 100% attendance rate for weekly match meetings after 7 weeks. The program is still looking to grow. You can go to their website here to signup and become a mentor or mentee. Because the system uses e-mentoring, students from anywhere are eligible to join as either mentors or mentees.
Jackson Slaughter is the AmeriCorps Ambassador of Mentoring Communications and Network Outreach Associate at Mass Mentoring Partnership.