August 20, 2019 11:08 AM
Dane Lisser

Millikin first-year students find a friend waiting through mentoring program

Millikin University's New Student Welcome Week experience prepares first-year students for what is expected in the college environment and how to best engage in the Millikin community to ensure success. A big part of that success comes from the guidance of First-Year Experience Mentors.

First-Year Experience Mentors (FYEMs) are sophomore, junior, or senior students who have a desire to aid new students in the transition from their previous school to Millikin. They are trained in developmental conversations, student success topic presentations and mediation, and help guide incoming students through their introduction to college.

Millikin First-Year Experience Mentors

"It's essentially what we like to call their 'first friend on campus,'" Megan Carey said in an interview with the Herald & Review. A senior from Morris, Ill., Carey has served as a FYEM for three years. "They get to sit in with first-year students in their freshman seminar class to help them get acclimated to, not only college life, but academic life, too, and it's a great networking opportunity with resident assistants. We like to think of it as a first friend, but also as a mentor on campus."

FYEMs meet with their group of students, which can range from five to 20 first-years, on move-in day. They help them unload their car and get their belongings into their dorm room, and they meet with them for a social event the first evening.

During New Student Welcome Week, first-year students have an opportunity to experience what Millikin has to offer before classes begin. They also learn about student organizations, studying abroad, internships, student media, intramurals and recreation, community service and many more programs and services that support academic goals, personal development, holistic well-being and life pursuits.

"Once you're someone's FYEM, you're always someone's FYEM, and that's something we cherish," Carey said.

When it comes to working with students who are homesick, Riley McDorman, a senior from Lisle, Ill., encourages them to engage in programs such as Greek Life and to see Millikin as a second home.

Millikin First-Year Experience Mentors

"I'll encourage them to go through Greek life, fraternities and sororities, or find different clubs on campus," said McDorman. "With student-athletes, their team is their second family, so they're not homesick as much as other students are."

Molly Berry, director of the Office of Inclusion and Student Engagement, oversees the First-Year Experience Mentors.

"The upper-class students are selected to be role models and mentors for students transitioning into Millikin," Berry said. "Usually the students come to me and want to be a mentor because they had a great experience with their own mentor. They come to campus two weeks before classes start to spend a week in training and to be here for Welcome Week."

Berry added, "The nice thing about FYEMs is, they kind of breed their own. When I hire and make decisions in the spring, and they do all of the good work they do, the students in their sections see them and think, 'I want to do that.' So when it comes to hiring season in February, they say 'I want to be a FYEM because I had a great FYEM.'"