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Don’t go alone—get a mentor.

VCU You First mentors are first-generation college students who serve as guides to new first-generation VCU students.

How it Works

First-generation VCU student have the opportunity to be matched with a mentor. These pairings are personally chosen by our staff. They are designed to connect you with someone with similar experiences and interests.    

Before you reach campus in your Freshman year, you’ll receive an email asking to fill out a short questionnaire. This information will help us decide which mentor will be most helpful to you. Mentors are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. Soon you’ll be contacted by your new mentor. If you don't currently have a mentor, you didn't miss out — apply now to be paired.

From then on, you’ll have regular contact with your mentor to help guide you through your first year of college. You can also join the You First at VCU student organization 

What’s in it for me?

  • Personalized guidance: all our mentors are first-generation students who once stood in your shoes. The help they provide is tailored to your experience.
  • Insider information: Where do you get the best pizza on campus? Which class looks fun and interesting but is actually grueling and time-consuming? Where should you do your laundry? What’s the best way to apply for a student job? Get your answers straight from the source.
  • Trusted advice: Remember, our mentors have been there before, and they’ve volunteered to help other first-generation students. They want to see you succeed. And sometimes, you just need someone to listen to you vent or give you some encouragement—your mentor can do that too.

2021 Mentoring Application Now Open

We're looking for mentors for the 2021 year! If you have a desire to help guide incoming first-generation college students and will not be graduating until at least December 2021, consider applying to become a mentor.

Mentors receive much training and support, so don't worry if you feel like you don't know "enough." Initial training takes place in the spring and advanced training takes place in the fall with the 1-credit service-learning course Advanced Peer Mentoring and Leadership. More details are provided at

In addition to helping new first-gen students find their confidence and stride, mentors develop a solid community amongst one another. Training discussions around the first-gen experience instill senses of validity and empowerment, and mentors continue to support each other well beyond these groups. 

If you'd like to join the mentoring team, apply at by February 8th, and email with any questions.


Featured Mentor: Papa Beye

Computer Engineering, class of 2021.

"I like seeing the positive effect that an honest discussion with mentees has on their performance in and out of school. 

I would tell someone considering the program to definitely take the opportunity because Summer Scholars really prepares and sets you up for success in college. It does get difficult because it’s college, but participating in the program will make a big difference."

Meet all the mentors.

Three things to do now

  • Answer the questionnaire that will help us match you with a mentor. If you’ve already done this, great! If not, it’s not too late: complete the survey now.
  • Join the You First at VCU student organization. This will help you stay connected with services and events (like parties! And pizza!)
  • Talk to your mentor! Hint: It’s helpful to keep a list of questions and challenges as you have them so that you can discuss them with your mentor later.