Apr 132006
Authors: Marissa HuttonGavel

As the year winds down and thoughts turn toward summer, a few seasoned Rams are thinking ahead and planning a smooth transition for new CSU students.

The RAM Connections Mentoring Program is looking for sophomores, juniors, seniors and staff members to serve as mentors for incoming freshmen and transfer students.

Students with leadership skills who have attended CSU for at least a year and have a minimum 2.5 GPA and an interest in helping other students are encouraged to apply.

Groups consisting of a peer mentor, a faculty or staff member and 20 freshmen will meet for the first eight weeks of the fall semester to help ease the transition into college.

“The biggest piece of it is sharing experiences with freshmen,” said Keith Lopez, graduate assistant for the Student Transitions and Parent and Family Programs.

Weekly meetings will cover topics ranging from making healthy food choices and navigating campus and Fort Collins to how to talk to a professor.

Jody Donovan, director of Student Transitions and Parent and Family Programs, said these meetings “jumpstart freshmen’s academic experience” at CSU.

Donovan helped start the program three years ago in response to the cancellation of the then-required freshman seminars.

After the faculty council voted to eliminate the seminars, student leaders, including former Associated Students of CSU President Katie Clausen, decided most of the information taught was important and necessary for new students.

“We put our heads together,” Donovan said. “And we came up with the mentoring program.”

RAM Connections has grown from 21 groups during the pilot program to more than 60 planned groups for the fall. Donovan credits the growth of the program to the benefits for everyone involved, especially freshmen.

“What I tend to see is students who are really motivated to maximize their experience at CSU,” she said. “They see this is a way for them to connect to campus.”

Potential peer mentors can sign up for specific affinity groups, including non-traditional students, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students, leadership and adventure, and community service.

There are also groups based from residence hall floors that are not already designated as Living Learning Communities, such as those located in Braiden Hall. The resident assistants for these halls will also serve as peer mentors for these groups.

“We’re trying to hit as many people as possible,” Lopez said.

Peer mentors and graduate students serving as mentors earn a graded credit for participating, while full-time administrative faculty is awarded a $750 stipend. The stipend amount was based on the fact that teaching the original freshman seminars was a paid position. A portion of the new student fee of $65 that incoming students pay each year for programs like Ram Welcome and the mentoring program go toward the stipends.

Sheena Martinez, a senior sociology major, was asked to apply by a fellow Greek Life staff member. Martinez acted as a peer mentor for a group of transfer students from Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina.

“We got to work with kids from New Orleans,” she said. “Some were from Colorado and went to Louisiana for school and some were kids who lived in Louisiana their whole lives.”


Today is the last day to apply for the RAM Connections Mentoring Program. Apply online at www.ramwelcome.colostate.edu under the RAM Connections Mentoring Program link. Although today is the application deadline, applications will be accepted until positions are filled.

Marissa Hutton-Gavel can be reached at campus@collegian.com

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