By Juan Godinez, March 2, 2021
The Womxn’s Resource Center is launching a mentorship program this semester to help students emerge as women leaders. Beginning March 1, students selected for the Trailblaze: Explore and Define Your Own Path program will have the opportunity to receive mentorship from professional women from diverse industries and backgrounds.
Occurring during Women’s History Month, the mentorship program will bring mentees and their mentors face-to-face over Zoom to discuss their goals and plan out the steps they can take to achieve them.
“The goal is to push the mentees to believe in themselves,” said Maria Cerce, the center’s coordinator who developed the program. “It’s important to the future of work for women that they are encouraged to apply for jobs and pursue their dreams.”
The program requires a total four to six-hour time commitment. It will begin with a one-hour introductory meeting with mentors, scheduled between March 1 and March 18. Then, an optional seminar with a keynote speaker is scheduled for March 19. The following day, mentees will have 45 minutes to catch up with their mentors to discuss their plans for success in the future.
“I want this to be a signature experience that they remember,” said Cerce. “Hopefully, these young ladies will carry the lessons they learn from the mentorship with them the rest of their lives.”
There will be a final, hour-long meeting in April to review the mentee’s goals and track their progress. The mentorship concludes with the submission of a 30-minute survey reviewing their experience. Any additional meetings following the conclusion of the mentorship are up to the mentees and their mentors to maintain the relationship.
Mentors were selected by the resource center with the goal of finding women who would be dedicated to the process and have a wealth of life experience to draw from when passing down their advice. Although many mentors applied, the program was limited to 15 pairings of mentors and mentees — totaling up to 30 participants.
Brenda Manzo, an area coordinator at the University Housing Services, was motivated to become a mentor to help guide young women the same way her mentor did for her back when she was in college.
“Because of my past experiences, I want to be able to help guide and support a new mentee of my own,” said Manzo. “Having a mentor as an undergraduate was so important because they helped me navigate a system that wasn’t created for me.”
For students like Emily Han, a second-year computer information systems student and president of the center’s club #GrrrlSquad, the program could not have come at a more important time.
“I believe that having a mentor is especially helpful during the virtual semester because we are more likely than ever to feel lost and have low motivation,” said Han.
A similar sentiment was shared by Anger Agoth, a fourth-year electronic systems engineering student who was selected to participate in the mentorship program.
“I think mentorship is so important because it allows us to see ourselves in others,” said Agoth. “The pandemic has made it hard for us to stop and realize how amazing and capable we are,” she added.
For Cerce, the mentorship program is a dream now fully realized. Mentors have been a vital part of her life and success, and she anticipates this program will pay it forward by offering a similar experience to its mentees.
“I hope by incorporating the voices of wonderful women, we’re able to bring other women up,” said Cerce. “I know that I’m so thankful for everyone who helped me get to where I am today because if it wasn’t for them, it wouldn’t have happened.”
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