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:

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