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Become an Obama Scholars mentor

April 29, 2011

Last year, more than 1,300 Obama Scholars were matched with a faculty, staff or student mentor in their first year at ASU.

Mentors not only guide students through college, they are helping the nation and the state improve global competitiveness. Arizona’s current college graduation rates are dismal with just nine out of 100 students who begin high school attending college and earning a bachelor’s degree.

"Being a good steward of someone's early college education as an Obama mentor is a rewarding experience," said Edwin Gonzalez-Santin, a faculty member of the Downtown Phoenix campus. "I could relate to the mentees and their experiences and I developed a meaningful relationship."

For a new first-year student, ASU can seem like a new world. But when an ASU faculty or staff member is by their side, mentoring and guiding them through their first-year adjustment and transition, it can make all the difference in the world.

ASU student Yesenia Pinales is appreciative of her Obama Scholars program mentor for exposing her to resources at ASU that have been critical to her success.

"I am so thankful for this program which encourages me to take full advantage of the education I can receive as a Sun Devil,” said Pinales, a political science major at the Tempe campus. “I have been given numerous opportunities to connect with many resources on campus, as well as with peers."

This type of student success is only possible through the efforts of faculty and staff who volunteer to become mentors. Mentor applications for the program are now being accepted through May 15 for the 2011-2012 academic year.

For more about becoming an Obama Scholar mentor, and to download the form, click here: Obama Scholars Faculty/Staff Mentor Form.

“My role as an Obama mentor has been enlightening, inspiring and motivating because my scholars are talented, innovative, driven and represent ASU well,” said Jennifer Holsman, executive director of operations for ASU Alumni Association. “Meeting with them each month has helped me to reconnect with the reason we are here – to help students succeed academically, professionally and personally.”

Students who have mentors are more likely to be better connected to student support and resources. A mentor’s role can take many paths from pointing a student to university resources to simply being there when a student needs a sounding board.

Of being a mentor, Wyetta Lane from the School of Mathematical & Statistical Sciences said, “It has been very easy to connect with my Obama Scholar. I tell my scholar that everyone has challenges and it is how you deal with them that matters. No one expects students to have all the answers – that’s why they’re in college. We’ve talked about the importance of taking advantage of all the resources available on campus as well as time management.”

The Obama Scholars program provides funding for direct costs to all academically qualified Arizona freshmen from families that earn less than $60,000. Priority consideration will begin with family incomes up to $42,400 and will increase to a maximum of $60,000, as program funds allow. Covered costs – minus expected family contributions – include tuition, fees, books, and room and board. Obama Scholars are also required to participate in a work-study program.    

For more information, contact Ken Hollin at or Amy Golden at

Steve Perez
Sr. Coordinator
Strategic Marketing & Communication