One of our favorite activities at the residence is the Mentoring Program. We love it because it contributes to the socialization of the students, to “bonding” with other students in their career, and because it fosters values such as solidarity and selfless help.
Upper year students, with the support of the residence, tutor students in the first years of their degree. This tutoring consists of helping them with the most difficult subjects and giving them advice on how to successfully face their university career.
Mentors don’t just provide support classes. They offer much more help, advising on how to approach each subject, how to organize and plan the work, etc. In many cases, the help becomes a “moral support”, especially in those particularly demanding careers, in which they must face situations that generate a lot of frustration, such as studying hard and, nevertheless, failing. For some students, encountering a failure is a new experience. They are very responsible people, who have always had excellent grades and who, when they get to university, discover that it is not always enough to study, nor is it always enough to study hard.
This is the case of Unai Alzaga, a student of International Industrial Engineering at UPNA. Last year he was an Engineering Mentoring mentee and this year he is a mentor. He felt it was his duty to offer himself as a mentor, to help other students as he had been helped in his first academic year. She admits that without the support she received from her fellow students during her first year, she might not have continued her studies.
Marta Monforte, also a mentor in this same program, told us that all engineering students face at some point the terrible question of whether it is worth so much effort. Having the advice and experience of veteran students, who have been down the same path and asked the same questions, is very helpful to younger students.
Along these lines, Ángela Casanova, a 2nd year medical student, explained that she has tried to support the new medical students as they did with her in her first year. The jump to university is very big, he told us, you have to study many more hours to get worse grades. It is very important to feel accompanied on this path, to know that what is happening to you is normal, that it is part of the process, and that with effort you will achieve your goal, even if it seems difficult now.
This year we have had five Mentoring programs, in Engineering, Biotechnology, Economics and Business, Medicine and Biochemistry. The latest addition has been the Mentoring in Biotechnology, a relatively new career that is taught at UPNA. Precisely because it is recent, there are not many manuals to turn to and the involvement of his two mentors, Susana San Ildefonso and Paula Somoza, has been essential.
Next year we will continue with our bet! We hope that the ongoing Mentoring programs will be strengthened and that we will be able to incorporate new programs in other areas of knowledge. Whether you are a teacher or a student, we are waiting for you!