Peer mentors obtain certification

Going over her chemistry lesson, biochemistry senior Anusha Bontha guides freshmen as an executive First Year Leader. She thinks the program has helped her to do more. Photo by Saher Aqeel | Photo Editor.

Starting this fall, a globally-recognized certification for peer mentors is available for students through UTD’s Institute for Peer Mentoring.

The qualification process equips students with the skills and teaches them how to apply mentoring knowledge to become a better mentor.

Kimshi Hickman, the associate dean of undergraduate education, who oversees the Student Success Center, said how useful this is for UTD’s peer mentors across campus.

“It’s a really good training because it’s a combination of training and experience hours where you work face-to-face with students,” Hickman said.

The program is not only available to peer mentors in the SSC, but also to other mentor groups and programs across campus. While peer mentoring groups at UTD each have their own trainings in the past, this program will unify these teachings. Students will gain skills that they can carry with them to any role, rather than a specific one at UTD.

“We have been granted grant funding through UT system to create the Institute for Peer Mentoring, and that way, we can take this mentoring program and offer it campus wide,” Hickman said.

Established this fall, the Institute for Peer Mentoring currently operates through the SSC.

In addition to the SSC, the First Year Leaders and freshmen and transfer mentors also joined the Institute of Peer Mentoring in order to obtain the globally-recognized endorsement.

“I think it’s really good that we are going through that kind of certification process because it kind of pushes us to do more … I think that it is really helpful, doing these kinds of certifications and it’s always a learning experience,” said Anusha Bontha, an executive FYL and a biochemistry senior.

Students must complete at least the first level to receive the certificate and then may pursue the consecutive levels. The three levels are certified, advanced and master. The Institute for Peer Mentorship is currently offering the first two levels. This is a free resource for students and is offered throughout the year, allowing students to complete it at a self-paced course. While this certification is not currently open to individual students at this time, students looking to obtain it can join the several programs that offer it.

“They do additional training hours that go a little deeper with some of the workshops and additional hours with students and they can earn level two and up to level three,” Hickman said.

In level one, mentors are required to complete fifteen training hours and fifty experience hours, covering topics such as do’s and don’ts, roles of the peer mentor and professional ethics. In the consecutive levels, additional trainings cover more in-depth skills, including conflict resolution, mentoring boundaries and cultural awareness.

“This is the first time we have been able to offer it campus wide … and I am really excited.” Hickman said.

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