Launched by a Scholars student who imagined ways to ease the college transition for first-year students, the Peer Mentors program has been a critical part of the Scholars experience for almost a decade. Peer mentors are sophomore Scholars who are matched with, and act as campus guides for, incoming Scholars students. They answer questions, help students find their way around campus and otherwise act as a support system and built-in network for freshmen as they get used to life as a Terp.
This coming fall will be different from the "typical" college experience, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Even so, incoming Scholars will still be able to count on peer mentors to help them navigate their first months of college.
We asked some of these peer mentors to share their experiences from this spring (when the University of Maryland switched from in-person classes to remote instruction in the middle of the semester) and offer any advice to incoming Scholars. Here's what they had to say.
“Before we were sent home this spring, our program director told us how much he appreciated us as a class because of how we always put our best foot forward. He then opened the floor to us to appreciate each other. All 70 students got to look around and see the impact we had made on each other. … I felt like I would be just fine [during the rest of the semester] because I had the Arts staff and my peers if I ever needed anything.”
—Jenna Deutch, Arts Scholars program
Major: Psychology, Criminology
Hometown: Olney, Maryland
“My program directors were available for any questions I had—having someone at UMD who could answer my questions while we were away from campus was very helpful. Freshmen, do not be afraid to ask for help or ask your professors a thousand questions. The professors I had experience with loved when students asked a lot of questions.”
—KaLiyah Burnett, Science and Global Change Scholars program
Major: Mechanical engineering
Hometown: Baltimore City, Maryland
“Even after being sent home in the middle of the spring semester, I never lost touch with the directors of my program and the friends I made within the program. My directors fueled my professional growth, and served as genuine resources and inspiration to my personal development. It is because of the Scholars program that I was able to stay focused and resilient for the remainder of the semester and summer. Many opportunities and resources have been opened to me, purely because of the community that formed within the Scholars program.”
—Frederick Farah, Science, Technology and Society Scholars program
Major: Aerospace engineering
Hometown: Hagerstown, Maryland
“My most memorable experience in Scholars this past spring was when we were asked to turn our quarantine experience into an art form. My friends and I made a podcast called ‘4 Girls in the Q.’ Despite the challenges of being remote this spring, Scholars was always a forum where I could express my feelings and enjoy myself throughout the chaos of the time.”
—Ardyn Solomon, Media, Self, and Society Scholars
Hometown: Maple Glen, Pennsylvania
“College Park Scholars was a very understanding and transparent program throughout the second half of the spring semester. I knew that my directors and TAs had my best interests at heart. They always asked how we were feeling and how they could help. I could tell the people in the program truly cared about me.
“My advice [for fall] would be to remain in contact with program directors. It’s so easy to lose motivation when you’re learning remotely. But by remaining in contact with program directors and TAs, it will help keep you on top of things and keep you motivated.”
—Saxon Brown, Arts Scholars
Major: Secondary Education, English
Hometown: Fallston, Maryland