Sophomore Mentoring Communities
The Mentoring Communities program is one of the key experiences in our sophomore residential colleges. These small mentoring communities of one adult mentor and 7-8 students explore one's sense of vocation by engaging in monthly conversations and activities, reflecting on key questions, journaling, and sharing personal experiences. These mentoring communities are a central component to the universities strategic plan that includes a focus on the question of vocation for sophomore students through the integration of living and learning.
The Mentor's Role
Unlike a more traditional "mentoring" role where the mentor is the leader, mentor meetings are student centered. Mentors are asked to facilitate peer to peer sharing and promote student ownership and leadership of these meetings. The adult mentor is seen as a fellow participant who struggles with the same questions of the program and shares their own challenges and gifts. A real gift mentors provide is creating and holding a space for students to come together and safely share their lives with one another.
A mentor's ability to attend the key components of the program is essential. Time commitments for mentors include:
- 1 day Mentor Orientation and training (end of August/early September)
- Meet Your Mentoring Community event (mid September)
- Meet monthly with your mentoring community (est. 1.5 hours), you schedule date/time
- All Mentor Meetings. Monthly support and reflection meetings for mentors
- Retreat (1 per semester, either on campus or 24-hour overnight)
- Final Send off event for students (late April/early May)
- Mentor evaluation and celebration (early May)
- Other special events when possible
While mentors and students schedule their monthly meetings at a time that fits everyone's schedule, the mentor's attendance at events such as Meet your mentoring community event, retreats, and the All Mentor Meetings is significant for their success.
How it works:
The mentoring communities are facilitated by an adult faculty, staff, university friend, or alumni mentor. Mentoring communities meet once a month (1.5-2.0 hrs.) to reflect on their experiences and the implications of the program's overarching key questions. A mentoring workbook, created intentionally from an Ignatian perspective and paradigm, provides the resources to begin these intimate conversations. Monthly Reflection questions to get heart and head working to better understand oneself and those in their life, Journal entries to help students remember all that will happen this year, Activities to build community, and Suggested Readings to widen one's world view. We encourage you to add your own favorites.
Before the meeting, students and mentors are urged to:
- Read the suggested reading,
- Spend time with the monthly Reflection questions
- Write their reflections in their journal
- Complete any activity listed
Because it is such a major component of the Residential College experience, students are expected to attend and fully participate in all mentoring community meetings.
In order for the mentoring communities to have any meaning, students must take ownership of their group. This means coming prepared to each monthly gathering having completed all readings, reflected on and attempted to answer the reflection questions, and ready to participate in the group dialogue and activities. It means sharing ideas and reflections, while supporting and even challenging one another's beliefs, attitudes, and actions. The mentoring community is built on confidentiality and trust in a non threatening, secure environment in which students learn and grow together.
Fairfield University offers five residential college communities for sophomore students. Brief descriptions are below.
1. Creative Life Residential College
Creative Life Residential College will be a new (fall 2010) sophomore living and learning community that will help guide students to a greater awareness of themselves as creative individuals, while exploring fundamental questions of identity, community and vocation. Students from all schools and departments at the university are welcome. We are encouraging synergy between business students, science students, arts students, engineering students, humanities students and nursing students. This is a particularly wonderful opportunity for people who have never considered their creative side. The following questions will frame the students' exploration:
- Who am I?
- Whose am I?
- How do I live a creative and examined life?
2. Ignatian Residential College
The Ignatian Residential College, which will begin its eighth year in fall 2009, seeks to examine the question of vocation from a variety of perspectives. This program is centered on three key questions:
- Who am I?
- Whose am I?
- Who am I called to be?
3. Service for Justice Residential College
The Service for Justice Residential College, now in its second year, is seeking adult mentors who are willing to accompany students in the ways described above with a special emphasis on social justice and diversity. This program is centered on 3 key questions:
- Who am I?
- Whose am I?
- How am I called to serve justice?
Fairfield University hopes to provide many sophomore students a residential college experience, generating the need for many mentors. This would provide a tremendous gift to our students. You can find more information about these residential colleges and other living and learning communities at Living and Learning.
Interested In Mentoring?
We are seeking adult mentors who are willing to accompany students throughout the year and contribute to building and intentional and meaningful community. Mentors are asked to facilitate conversations with students, reflect on monthly questions, participate in all activities, and seek to empower students to take ownership and leadership roles in and out of the mentoring communities. Faculty, staff, administrators, graduate students, alumni of a few years, and friends of Fairfield University can mentor.
If you are interested in mentoring for a residential college, please complete the Mentor Application form above. If you have questions, please contact:
Joseph DeFeo, Ph.D.
Associate Dean of Students and Director of Student Development
Kelley Center, Fairfield University
(203) 254-4000 ext. 4025