Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mentoring college-bound students is a job suited for Superman

Check out my feature article on the University of Nevada, Reno Web site!

I am the media specialist for the University of Nevada, Reno’s Media Relations department. I am a 2004 Nevada graduate, and on Feb. 27, 2008, I volunteered to mentor a Hug High School student in the ASCENT mentor program, a partnership between the University and the Washoe County School District. This is my first-person account of the first five months of my mentoring experience with my mentee.

Read full story...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

ASCENT Mentor Workshop right around the corner

Monday, June 23, 2008

ASCENT mentors program needs volunteers

A message from Shannon Ellis-Vice President, Student Services:

The University is proud to partner with Hug High School on the ASCENT mentors program. “All Students College Educated in Nevada Today” is making a positive difference in students’ lives. I am writing to invite you to help us continue this important work by becoming a mentor this fall or next spring.

Volunteer mentors are asked to commit up to three hours a month spending time with their mentee specifically discussing college aspirations and offering guidance on college applications, financial goals, scholarship and career opportunities. Many of the students will be the first in their family to attend a university. Your ability to ask the right questions, raise the important issues and point them to helpful resources is critical. Our mentor training and resource staff will provide you with all the support you need to be a great mentor.

If you are interested in joining over 100 faculty, staff, alumni and community members already involved in the program please fill out a mentor application and submit it to Ellen Houston at or fax it to (775) 682-8977 or call (775) 682-8404 by July 15th. Thank you for considering our invitation.


Shannon Ellis
Vice President, Student Services

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Hug High sophomores, juniors attend student-training workshop

The ASCENT mentor program assists and keeps Nevada’s students college bound.

One hundred and sixty Hug High School students from the 2009 and 2010 graduating classes are slated to attend a student-training session as part of the University-affiliated All Students College Educated in Nevada Today (ASCENT) mentor program on Wednesday, May 7 from 1:30 – 3 p.m. The training will be held at the Boys and Girls Club at Hug, 2860 Sutro St., Reno.

“The workshop is a great place for students in the mentorship program to mingle, and discuss expectations, goals and communication tactics,” Hug Dean of Students Courtney Klaich said.

Five members of Delta Epsilon Iota, an academic honor society at the University, will share their college experiences and participate in a question-and-answer panel with the mentees during the student-only training session.

“We are proud to be involved with the mentoring program and hope the students gain something from our discussion,” said Delta Epsilon Iota member Ellen Webb.

Community mentors who volunteer for the program are asked to commit one to three hours monthly with a student to discuss college applications, financial goals, scholarships and career options. The partnership’s goal is to help students continue their education and attend a university or community college.

ASCENT is in the second year of a three-year program period with topics that evolve annually based upon the mentee’s individual goals and timelines. The planning committee at the University and Hug High is expanding the program during the next academic year and will match mentors with incoming freshmen.

Volunteers mentoring sophomores are helping prepare them for ACT college entrance tests in June, evaluating proficiency-exam scores, discussing career choices and personal finance management, as well as reviewing weekly report cards and attendance records.

Mentors paired with juniors are helping them prepare for advanced placement and SAT college entrance tests, as well as evaluating proficiency exam scores, submitting scholarship applications, assisting students enrolling for summer school classes, and helping coordinate other summer plans.

Community members who are interested in volunteering as a mentor in the fall 2008 or spring 2009 session should contact Klaich at or call (775) 327-5604. Nearly 200 volunteers are needed.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Webbing Out

Here I am-yes, speaking on my new-found knowledge of and experience with blogging.

Associate Vice President for the University's Student Success Services Fabienne McPhail Naples welcomed the mentors at each of the two training sessions on April 2. She and the program expressed their appreciation and gave each of us a University coffee mug packed with candy.

Both sessions were well attended and, in my opinion, well received. Many mentors brought questions about the boundaries of the program, anecdotes and success stories, mentoring suggestions, etc.

Specifically, we shared words of inspiration with Dee Hill, an academic counselor at the University speaking about Real World Mentoring: The Challenges and Triumphs of Life.
Then I spoke about the blog with a session titled Webbing Out: On Self-Reflection and Encouragement. I brought along, shared and referred to a current copy of the school's paper, The Nevada Sagebrush, which reported on the many types of social networks and discussed how students like to connect on special interests in an article titled How do you connect? A copy of my blog was printed and made available to each mentor.

Hug High School's Dean Courtney Klaich spoke about Cross-Cultural Mentoring Relationships: Tolerance and Understanding of your Mentee's Background. One of the more controversial issues we may face in this program is the fact of having undocumented students. At Hug High School, there is approximately 60-65 percent Latino Americans, 10 percent African Americans, 10 percent Asian and/or Pacific Islander students and most of the remaining 15-20 percent of the population is White/Caucasian. The Program Coordinator for the University's Center for Student Cultural Diversity Araceli Martinez spoke about the Challenges for Undocumented Students.

Courtney closed the training session with What Every Mentor Needs to Know-Tips on creating safe and trusting relationships: an exercise in patience and communication.
A packet was supplied to all who attended which included a copy of my blog, a recently published mentor article, history and FAQ's about Procter R. Hug High School and the highly coveted Nevada ASCENT Mentor Training Handbook 2008.

Future events and training sessions are in the works-but for now, every mentor is still encouraged to meet with their mentee at least once a month. The end of the semester is nearing and many of them should arrange to sign up for summer school classes.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

New Associate Vice President for Student Success Services

Fabienne McPhail Naples became the University’s associate vice president for Student Success Services March 3.

After being in Reno and employed at the University only a month, she says, "I love it here." And you know what, we love her here too and are so fortunate to have her as one of our fearless leaders of the ASCENT mentor program.

Read more about Fabienne and her involvement with ASCENT and the many other Student Success Services programs.

An empathetic trailblazer tackles student concerns, Nevada News, University of Nevada Web site, April 2008.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The lost art of being mentored

I found a mentor-related article at Tactics and The Strategist Online and it will appear in the April issue of the PR Tactics newspaper.

If you've ever questioned your role or influence as a mentor or if you question the motives of your mentee, take a moment to read the thoughts of a sesasoned mentor and heed his very instructive tips-enjoy.

What's it all about? The lost art of being mentored, March 20, 2008, Tim O'Brien. [click here]

Save the Date: mentor training sessions now available

Fellow Mentors — the organizers of the ASCENT mentor program are listening. They have heard many of us first-timers cry out, "What do I do as a mentor; how do I create a trusting relationship; what if my student doesn't show up to our session?"

Because of our loud crys (and mainly because we all want to see these students excel), they are now offering two mentor training sessions! Yes -- 2 Mentor Training Sessions!

The sessions are available to both Year 1 and Year 2 mentors (trained collaboratively, not separately) and are intended to be inspirational, educational and fun!

On Wednesday, April 2, choose between two session times.
Session I: 7:30 - 9:30 a.m. or
Session II: 4-5:30 p.m.

Where: University of Nevada, Reno, Down Under Cafe, 55 Artemesia St., enter south side of Cafe.

They would love all of our thoughts and suggestions and are continually compiling a list of "hot topics." Please respond to Courtney Klaich at if you have some burning questions that you'd like to be addressed at this training or at future sessions.

RSVP to attend one of the two sessions by calling the Student Success Services office at (775) 784-6307.

As a reminder, this is a mentor training event designed specially for the adults - do NOT bring your student.

If you have not yet signed up to be a mentor, contact Courtney at her email listed above or by calling her at (775) 327-5604.

Get to mentoring!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Who is my mentee?

For those who have been waiting to hear--I met with my mentee and...

she is a very beautiful, ambitious, prideful and driven individual. I look forward to meeting with her again and assisting her along the path toward higher education.

She is now preparing and studying for her Proficiency exams, scheduled for testing the first week of April. We will meet again after her tests and discuss what she found most interesting and most challenging.

We will check back in soon...

Monday, March 3, 2008

Save the Date: first mentor meeting scheduled

I will be meeting my mentee this Wednesday and finally finding out more about her.

The expectation of ASCENT volunteers is for us to meet on the high school campus, where a certified faculty member will be present. However, it has happened in the past that mentor relationships have extended to involve the parents. At that point it would be up to the parents to give permission for an off-campus meeting.

For now, we will meet at the high school, but I hope our mentor/mentee relationship does expand to a friendship level and that I can serve more of an active role in her life. I would eventually like to bring her to the University campus, show her the amazing new student union building, have her shadow a student photographer (darkroom and all), introduce her to active and influential students/club members, set up a tour for us to go to the local newspaper press, and whatever else she'd like to see or do.

Sophomore year in high school can be a very special but vulnerable time in a person's life and I hope to help shape the mold of my mentee's future that will eventually reflect a successful student and accomplished person.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Joining the ASCENT mentor program

On Wednesday, Feb. 27, I attended a ceremony where more than 140 mentors and mentees met for the first time at Hug High School in Reno, NV for the match-up for All Students College Educated in Nevada Today (ASCENT).

The ASCENT program at the Reno school pairs successful members of the community with high school sophomores to help students reach their goal of attending college. We are asked to commit one to three hours monthly with our mentee to “motivate, guide and inform;” providing them with resources and knowledge that can help them pursue their dreams of higher education. After completing the three-year program, many of the students will be the first in their families to attend a university.

Many of us working at the University of Nevada, Reno were called to action by an e-mail University President Milt Glick sent to faculty and staff.

The inaugural ASCENT program, based on a model started by the Gates Foundation in Seattle, was introduced to northern Nevada last year and the partnership between the school and the University produced 160 pairs of mentors/mentees. Program coordinators try to place students with mentors who have similar interests.

Upon arrival and check-in for the event, mentors were handed green folders that included the mentee application, conversation topics, calendar/appointment sheets for the next three months, a University resource contact list, a step-by-step brochure guide on college preparation, and a playing card.

I giddily examined the contents of the folder to find out about my match. The aqua-blue pen she wrote in on her mentee application revealed her interests of photography, computer technology and history, with academic challenges presented by chemistry and geometry. The application also divulged what she hopes to gain from the mentoring experience-simply stated-to know how to succeed in college.

I was so looking forward to the next few minutes when I was to be introduced to my mentee. After a brief introduction by Hug High Principal Andy Kelly and Hug Dean and Event Coordinator Courtney Klaich, mentors and mentees were let loose to find their match, identifiable by the one who held the same playing card (I had the 8 of clubs).

Students and professionals were quickly matched up and so began the first of many conversations to hopefully be had in the next three years.

Unfortunately, my match was sick this day and we have yet to meet up. We have been in touch via email and are still working on coordinating our schedules for our initial gathering.

I plan for this blog to be a platform where I can share my mentor experiences and help influence others to get involved.

More mentors are needed for the approximate 20 students who remain on a waiting list. To sign up or for more information on the ASCENT program, contact Hug High School Dean Courtney Klaich at or call (775) 327-5604.

Take some time to read about the program through the following articles: