Lauren Michelle McGee
Students deal with stress as they are trying to pass their classes and obtain a degree, which is why the College Achievement Program has been helping them overcome their personal and academic hurdles for nearly two decades.
“I have always believed that college should be intellectually challenging, but not emotionally devastating,” said Program Director Jody Millward. “Often times students get derailed because they are hit by an outside force, not something happening in the classroom.”
This program, which currently has 40 students enrolled, pairs students with an experienced peer mentor based on their academic and personal challenges. Each student meets with their assigned mentor once a week in order to check on their progress toward semester goals and assist if any challenges should arise.
Millward, alongside math professor Monica Dabos, addresses the complexity of students’ academic and personal difficulties by teaching them effective study methods and critical thinking skills in a classroom setting on Fridays.
“I love helping people, it’s such a fulfilling experience,” said peer mentor Carina Mendoza. “I feel like a big sister.”
Mendoza brings her unique experience from working with the local community outside of City College to assist her students throughout the semester.
“I feel like I stay on track more and I get to meet new people,” said City College student Emily Murill. She credits the program and Mendoza’s mentorship in improving her public speaking ability, making her a more confident individual.
Senior Peer Mentor Kirstyn Birkhofer has been involved with the program for over four years, initially starting as a participant. Birkhofer describes her mentorship as constantly evolving to her individual mentees needs and learning styles.
“Every student is different, but they all have challenges every semester,” Birkhofer said. “Teaching them and mentoring them one way is just not effective.”
Sam Yanez, a City College student, thought that being an older student and a single parent would put him at a disadvantage. Since joining the program, Yanez said he has learned to not shy away from difficult situations.
“You have to treat school like it’s a job,” Yanez said. “You have to suit up, and show up.”
City College student Nico Batres said he benefited from sharing his personal experiences and struggles through the one-on-one mentorship.
“Having a mentor that works with you every week and you learn about their life and they about yours is really great,” Batres said.
Applications for The College Achievement Program are available through its website and are accepted the first week of the Spring and Fall semester in Interdisciplinary Center Room 326B. Applicants are required to be enrolled in a minimum of two classes and be an in-state tuition student.