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
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.”