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Barrett mentoring program helps first-year honors students find their way

Weekly activities help new students adjust to college life and become more involved in the Barrett community

Barrett, The Honors College sign outside of building
April 28, 2022

Starting college can be challenging, especially when students can feel lost and unsure with what career path they want to pursue. Arizona State University’s Barrett Mentoring Program is one of the tools available for students to have a smooth transition during their time in college.

The program, part of Barrett, The Honors College, offers first-year honors students programming and support to help them adjust to college life and become more involved in the Barrett community. It is offered on all four of ASU’s campuses in metro Phoenix.

Liz Marini, who has been the program manager at Barrett for 20 years, says the mentors “are aware that everyone faces challenges when starting at ASU and Barrett, and they strive to ease this transition by answering questions and including new students in fun events.”

The mentors are Barrett students themselves, from sophomores to seniors, and can provide advice to new students who are having difficulty connecting or are not sure where to start career-wise.

M.J. Sarraf, a sophomore majoring in forensic psychology and neuroscience and the Barrett executive board chair on the West campus, says the mentors help new students adjust to their new environment as well as to meet other students and form bonds.

“Barrett is its own little community,” said Sarraf. “The mentoring program really demonstrates that to students and gives them someone to ask their questions to and a way to meet new people with common interests.”

The program provides weekly activities during the fall semester, and mentors take turns creating, planning and hosting them.

“Some of these activities are designed to provide information and advice, like the Human Event info sessions where mentors share their experiences in the required first-year class,” said Marini.

Being a Barrett mentor comes with plenty of responsibilities — and opportunities to learn, such as their weekly meetings where they can work on their professional skills.

“We build professional skills by having meetings geared toward teaching specific skills, such as constructive criticism, email etiquette, presenting and so much more,” Sarraf said. “We want our mentors to come away with more information than they had coming in. The club teaches us how to help the first-years, but it also teaches skills that are always useful to have in any career path.”

As part of developing skills in working collaboratively, they must plan and execute at least two events during the semester, as well as assist other mentors. 

Marini says that the program gives first-year students access to older students who share similar experiences.

“Having a mentor can help new students make important, long-lasting connections as they share their experiences as a way of helping them cope with the overwhelming emotions associated with starting university,” said Marini.

Marini says that “the sense of belonging and confidence from connecting early can help a student focus on their classes and seek out help when it is needed.”

Sarraf echoed the importance of the connections she made through the program.

“These connections are ones that I have carried through my years at Barrett and been able to utilize for questions and advice,” Sarraf said. “The amazing faculty here is always so open and kind; it is amazing to have a way to get to know them one-on-one through these events.”

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