Meet the mentors

VCU You First mentors are sophomore, junior, and senior first-generation college students who serve as guides to new VCU students who are also first-gen. Having learned to navigate college life, these students are excited to share their hard-earned “college knowledge” with others to help ease the transition into this new world. They know what it feels like to be brand new and they welcome questions and conversation of all sorts.

If you would like to be connected with a You First mentor, complete the matching survey. If you would like to become a mentor, read over the program description and requirements. Applications for 2021 mentoring are due by January 31, 2021. The application will be available in November. 

Papa Beye

Computer Engineering, class of 2021

What do you enjoy about being a mentor?
I really enjoy talking to my mentees and helping them arrive to solutions. I love seeing their success.

What do you value about being a first-gen student?
I value my identity as a first-generation student because it empowers me to pursue the unlikely.

Yessica Flores

Psychology and sociology, class of 2021

On being a mentor: I love the rewarding feeling of being able to guide others through challenging situations. I love the experience of being a resource for others.

On the Summer Scholars program: If you have the opportunity to become a Summer Scholar, take advantage of it. Do it and make the best of it. This program will benefit you in ways you would never expect it to. If you take advantage of all the information, resources, and networking opportunities provided, then you should have a head start on figuring out how college works. This program will will give you an unforgettable and very valuable experience.

Jon Mirador

Interdisciplinary Studies, class of 2022

What do you enjoy about being a mentor?
I most enjoy helping to guide the process of self-improvement by creating a meaningful relationship, which can impact both the mentor and the mentee. It is greatly rewarding to be that person who I once needed. 

What do you value about being a first-gen student?
I value the sense of fulfillment that comes with every achievement. This is because as a first-gen student, it can be difficult to see the progress we make as we keep working towards our goals. It’s important to step back and see how just how hard we’re working, and that makes everything worthwhile.

 

Nana Afriyie

Social Work, class of 2020

What do you enjoy about being a mentor?
One thing I enjoy about being a mentor is getting to meet new people with different backgrounds.

What do you value about being a first-gen student?
I value being the first in my family to attend college. 

Barjaa Brown

Psychology, class of 2021

What do you enjoy about being a mentor?
I enjoy helping fellow first-gen students succeed by being a resource to them. Also, I enjoy being part of their support system and sharing knowledge about things that might not necessarily be apparent. 

What do you value about being a first-gen student?
I value the opportunity to provide advice and guidance that I myself had and would have benefitted from.

Savannah Cook

Nursing and Psychology, class of 2022

What do you enjoy about being a mentor?
I think back to when I was just coming into VCU, and all the mentors I had myself. I never could have made the transition to college comfortably without all the help I had along the way. As a mentor I enjoy helping other first generation students get accustomed to university life in any way I can.

What do you value about being a first-gen student?
I value that I am the first of my family to pursue a higher education, and I hope that I can light the way for my younger siblings. I have found a population of students that feel the same way as I do, and I am so happy that we all can learn from each other.

 

Faith Crawford

Chemistry, class of 2022

What do you enjoy about being a mentor?
I take comfort in the fact that we, as mentors, help guide our mentees to make their first year go a lot more smoothly.

What do you value about being a first-gen student?
Even though I was a bit scared when I first came to VCU, I love that, by being a first-gen student, I feel like I'm part of a family. We look out for each other. It's an experience that I don't think students who aren't first-gen get as quickly, because we have this niche.

 

Jalaya Davis

Psychology, class of 2021

What do you enjoy about being a mentor?
I enjoy seeing my mentee grow during my time with them. Not just in skills that will help them in school, but also in skills that will help them beyond school.

What do you value about being a first-gen student?
I am trying to do something that no one else in my family has done and that’s graduate from college. College is tough, but being able to come out saying, “I did it!” will make it all be worthwhile in the end.

Kali Delay

Interdisciplinary Studies: Crisis Intervention Specialist, class of 2022

What do you enjoy about being a mentor?

The best part about being a mentor is being an available resource for someone who needs it, no matter the circumstances. Whether it be for something extremely complex and confusing or something simple and straightforward, I find comfort in knowing that we don't have to solve our problems alone. There are so many great opportunities at VCU, and I'd hate for a new student to be turned away from experiences because they didn't know about them or how to approach it.

Marielle Hankerson

Spanish and Urban and Regional Studies, class of 2022

What do you enjoy about being a mentor?
My favorite aspect of being a mentor is being able to help other people when they need it most. I love being able to share my experiences in order to help someone else become more successful in their life and achieve more of their personal goals.

What do you value about being a first-gen student?
One of the most valuable aspects of being a first-gen student for me is having the desire and persistence to achieve goals and to succeed in my education and future career. It can be challenging at times, but I know at VCU I have a large group of supporters behind me who want me to succeed just as much as I want to.

 

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