Gaining Experience as a TRIO Mentor

Outside of classes, it is essential to get involved on campus by seeking opportunities that enhance your leadership skills. As a Human Development major, I have always been passionate about giving back to my community by fostering relationships with organizations that help underrepresented communities. One of these organizations is TRIO Student Support Services. This program promotes academic success and personal growth for first-generation students, income-eligible students, and students with disabilities at Binghamton University. Through academic and interpersonal support from advisors, tutoring services, and mentorship opportunities, students have the chance to excel throughout their college careers with the help of a community that wants to see them succeed. 

This program helped me so much during the first few years at Binghamton just by utilizing the resources that they had available that it made me decide to give back by becoming a Summer TRIO Mentor (STM). I learned about this opportunity through the listserv emails the program would send out, Groupme, and during discussions with my academic advisor. SSS understands how essential it is for students to have experiences beyond classes, which is why students have the chance to join the advisory board, which reviews programs and works with staff to ensure program participants receive what they need and become mentors and tutors. As an STM, I facilitated the student transition for incoming first-year students at Binghamton University. I mainly focused on 20+ students by having weekly meetings where they had the chance to learn about resources on campus and build new relationships with one another. Communication and organizational skills were vital for this role since I worked with a diverse group of students. I had to tailor how I shared information with the student body. I organized myself by keeping track of all the students I met weekly in an Excel sheet, along with documents filled with events and logistics throughout the summer portion of the program.

Most importantly, I learned how to work within a team since the success of this program depended on how well the rest of the mentors and pro-staff worked together. I connected with various directors within the program, from the person that oversees it to academic advisors to fellow students within different majors. I built long-lasting friendships with other mentors, which have tremendously changed my college experience. 

The critical aspect of finding opportunities on campus is first to see what interests you, where on campus you can directly create an impact and what resources exist to make this happen. While applying for this role, I visited the Fleishman center to review my resume and cover letter; I sent my short responses to a past mentor and even met with advisors. There are resources out there for you, along with experiences that will be fulfilling- remember that it’ll all depend on your ability to take a leap of faith and go after what brings you the most joy! In my case, it was by giving back to the community that became a family.


By Yaleza Fernandez
Yaleza Fernandez