By: Staff Writer Kylie Cheung
This year, in an effort to assist mid-year and out-of-country transfer students at MSJ, students of the Best Foot Forward (BFF) Mentoring Program allied with the counseling department to provide new students with individual student mentors. Mentors will offer the new students guidance for MSJ’s unique social and academic environment, along with friendship and compassion throughout their transition. MSJ’s BFF will be an ongoing program throughout this school year, and mentor-mentee matches are set to begin in the week of October 6.
The idea for the program began developing as early as May 2014, particularly as co-founder Junior Harshita Gupta was personally familiar with the difficulties of being a mid-year new student from a different country. “I was a new student myself; I moved here from India second quarter freshman year,” Gupta says. “I realized that the American system is very different from any other.” Social complexities like language and cultural barriers can cause an overwhelming strain on transfer students, most of whom are too afraid to ask for or seek help. Thus, she and co-founder Junior Pooja Nair set to work with MSJ’s very own counseling department to bring BFF into being. “It was… something the counselors personally suggested us to pursue,” Nair says.
Before assimilating new students into MSJ culture and providing them with friendship and encouragement, BFF will begin with making sure that they reach out to all new students who transfer in throughout the year. They hope that new students are aligned with a mentor who is most compatible with them in terms of any shared language, interests, goals, and personality traits. Mentee satisfaction is another important goal, and regular mentor-mentee communication, brief reports to check for progress, and an initial mentor briefing meeting will be implemented as ‘training wheels’ before the partnership can proceed to go freely at its own pace.
BFF will be accepting mentor applications via online form from current sophomores, juniors and seniors who are sincerely driven to help new students up until Saturday, September 27th. Interviews will be held throughout the week of September 29th.
For those of you interested in applying, here is the link to the application: https://docs.google.com/a/thesmokesignal.org/forms/d/1-xsoHQBMEwenxZF9ipWtj5egECd-kNsbPLDiqahQWDQ/viewform