LGBTQA+ mentors give guidance and growth to students

Thursday, January 23, 2020 LGBTQA+ mentors give guidance and growth to students

LGBTQA+ mentors and mentees attend local Pride celebration.

January is National Mentoring Month, a national campaign to celebrate the power of positive relationships and raise awareness for mentoring movements. UNL has its own fair share of mentor/mentee programs, one of which is the LGBTQA+ Center’s peer mentor program. Established in 2015, it's mission is to provide LGBTQA+ students with the resources needed to help them be successful at UNL and an active member of the community.

Jake Piccini, a computer science major, manages the mentor program. He first joined as a mentee his freshman year, and then decided to become a mentor. He has now moved up the ranks to be the Peer Mentor Program Coordinator, where he has been for the last two years.

The program strives to create a sense of community for mentees, by connecting with peers their age, as well as with older students who have been in their shoes before. It’s also a great opportunity for mentors to impart their learned wisdom on younger students and gain the satisfaction of building successful relationships.

Each mentor has their own group of mentees that they get to know and spend time with over the course of the academic year, in a combination of large and small group activities. There are multiple program-wide semester activities, focusing on either social or professional development. Additionally, mentors set up their own activities such as bowling, carving pumpkins, or other outings for mentees to attend.

For the more individual aspect of a mentor/mentee relationship, monthly one-on-one meetings allow for mentors to check in and bond with their mentees on a personal level. Mentors also send out messages every other week to keep up with mentees and how they’re doing.

According to Piccini, the best part of the program is the deep bonds created by having a mentor/mentee relationship.

“[Mentees have] someone that you can talk to about anything, who has had similar experiences and can offer advice, but also is just there to be a friend,” Piccini said. “It’s a professional relationship but also a personal relationship too.”

At the moment, the program has 4 mentors and 12 mentees, and is always open to new applicants and participants. Interested individuals wanting to be either mentee or a mentor can apply on the LGBTA+ Center website.

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