Alex Delaney-Gesing
Features Editor

College life can be difficult for students, especially those just starting out. To aid in making the experience (both academically and socially), easier, Lorain County Community College’s student peer mentoring program provides support.

Created in 2012 under the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Ohio Campus Compact VISTA (a program that strategically connects college resources with communities in need), Connect2Complete (C2C) is an all-volunteer peer mentoring program on campus.  C2C provides students with the resources, tools, peer advocates and countless chances to aid students in achieving academic success and degree completion.

The purpose of the program lies in bettering students’ experience in courses through the means of a positive peer advocate as well as a way to connect to campus and community resources.

“We’ve found that nearly half of the students who come [to LCCC] have to take developmental classes and it bogs them down because they have to complete those before they can get into the other classes so if we can [aid] the process in any way, it’s a pretty big help,” Alyssa Bambarger, OCC AmeriCorps VISTA and co-coordinator of Connect2Complete said.

As peer mentors, students visit developmental courses on campus at least eight times. Ultimately, the length and number of times of each visit made by the advocates depends on the instructor. Prior to classes, mentors plan out the lesson plan with the instructor in order to align with the content of the course.

During visits, mentors present on various topics; study tips, time management skills. These techniques are designed to benefit the students in both their educational experience as well as campus experience during their time at LCCC. Currently, the developmental courses on campus involved with Connect2Complete include areas in math, science, reading and writing.

A key component of the mentoring program includes the connection support of peer advocates with LCCC students through activities including tutoring, advising and one-on-one assistance in addition to techniques in the classroom.

Cassandra Andrusyszyn,a business entrepreneurship major, has been a peer advocate of Connect2Complete for the past four semesters.

“I became a peer advocate because I thought this program is a good opportunity for me to give back,” she said, “I tell my C2C students that I am a walking referral source because I have my associates degree and I know what it takes to get one by utilizing the resources on campus.”

Peer advocates have the opportunity to receive top quality leadership training through the required ‘Leadership Through Civic Engagement’ workshop they must complete before being approved as a mentor.

“When we get our peer advocates in for orientation we really like to highlight that this is a part of something bigger; it’s a national drive to help students succeed in college, especially at a community college level,” Deanne Shook, AmeriCorps VISTA and co-coordinator of Connect2Complete said.

“It’s a great leadership opportunity and we really plug personal and professional development because we do like to hold workshops and trainings when [the mentors] are available,” Bambarger said.

“I feel that the C2C program has helped me grow professionally with public speaking, organizing, time management, plus more,” Andrusyszyn said.

The requirements LCCC students must meet in order to qualify to become a peer advocate can be found at the program’s page featured on LCCC’s website by clicking on the tab Career Services.

“We are looking for anyone that wants some leadership experience, a way to give back or maybe they’re knowledgeable about the campus and wish to share that knowledge with others,” Bambarger said.

“The reward I get from this program is knowing that I am helping students, my peers, get closer to graduation,” Andrusyszyn said.

Commitment to the program is minimal for peer advocates. Anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes per week is needed to make a positive impact in the success of students on campus. Monthly meetings take place with two optional days in consideration of the peer advocates’ hectic schedules. Meetings typically have dual purposes; to trouble shoot with how classes are going and any advancements made as well as a personal development section where peer advocates facilitate leadership and decision-making skills.

“The biggest thing I advocate for is that piece of giving back because deep down I think everybody has had somebody help them and they do want that opportunity to give back, so this is that opportunity,” Shook said. “It develops them personally and allows them to succeed.”

To become a peer advocate for Spring Semester 2015, Connect2Complete is accepting applications up until two weeks before the beginning of the semester in January.

Questions regarding the program?

Contact Alyssa Bambarger at abambarger@lorainccc.edu or Deanne Shook at dshook@lorainccc.edu.