A Publication for the faculty, staff, administrators and friends of California State University, Chico
October 7, 2004 Volume 35/Number 2

Page One Stories

Pedro Douglas and Sommer Hayes

How Mentoring Plays a Crucial Role in Student Success

The Minority Undergraduate Fellow Program at CSU, Chico


In 2002, Pedro Douglas, director of Student Health Services, brought the Minority Undergraduate Fellow Program (MUFP) to CSU, Chico. The program is sponsored by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators and was created to encourage students of color and students with disabilities to consider careers in student affairs and higher education.

Fellows are required to complete three internships; these are usually done in Student Affairs, but can be done in other divisions that relate to the student’s area of interest. The students are encouraged to complete an internship at another campus (a “residency”), preferably in another state, in a dissimilar setting. “It’s important that students broaden their depth of experience,” explained Douglas. Each student must apply to at least four graduate programs.

Douglas was a first-generation college student; he attended Kean College in New Jersey through the Educational Opportunity Program. He knows firsthand the difficulties minority students face.

“Frequently, I was the only student of color in my business classes,” he said. His strategy for finding study partners was to join every club in the business department. “I made a lot of friends that way,” he said, adding that he encourages his MUFP students to get involved in campus activities that will help their academic and social development. He also encourages them to be aware of the many resources CSU, Chico has available to them.

“While CSU, Chico is a great place, it presents many obstacles for our minority student population. Our goal as mentors is to ensure that minority students are equipped to address these obstacles,” explained Douglas. “I believe it’s reassuring to minority students to know that there is someone who will not judge them academically or socially, but is only interested in their overall success and is willing to invest the time to help them meet their goals.”

Douglas has mentored seven students since launching the program. The students have done internships in Disability Support Services, the Educational Opportunity Program, Student Judicial Affairs, and University Housing and Food Service, as well as residencies in student affairs at other campuses. One student has completed her master’s degree and applied to a Ph.D. program at UC Davis, four have been accepted into graduate programs, and two are awaiting acceptance.


Douglas anticipates having four new MUFP students this fall, as well as two returning students, Mar’Keyth Powell and Sommer Hayes. Hayes has already been offered admission to a graduate program at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania. Powell completed an internship this summer in Student Judicial Affairs, where he was mentored by Mary Oling Ottoo, director of Student Judicial Affairs and Special Projects.

Douglas helped Powell map a path to success. “He has super high expectations, but they’re not unreasonable. They are expectations you should have of yourself,” said Powell. “A lot of people, they just want to see you do well and graduate, with maybe some aspirations of continuing.” But Douglas was a different story. “He asked those follow-up questions—those are the ones that kill you. ‘How? Where? When? Immediately? Assistantships? Have you applied yet? Taken GREs?’ Serious questions!”

Powell plans to attend the Uni-versity of the Pacific to earn a master’s degree in student affairs and administration.

The MUFP is funded by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, the MUFP students, and Student Health Service funds received from participating in drug research studies. “We have a real commitment from the entire division [Student Affairs] available for internships,” said Douglas.

“Nationally, there are a lot more minorities in student affairs compared to academic affairs, but it’s still not at the level that it should be given the population of minority students,” said Oling Ottoo. “I think it’s crucial that those of us that are in there should bring up young ones to step into our shoes when we’re gone.”

—Lisa Kirk

 

 

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