By CAROLINE HAILEY
Carroll County Times
WESTMINSTER, Md. (AP) — As a first-year full-time student at Carroll Community College, Josh Huffer isn’t sure how he’ll be able to manage his time, find his way around the campus and get involved with the college community.
The 17-year-old Keymar resident is hoping those challenges will be made easier now that he’s joining the Great Start Program, which will match him with a returning student to serve as a mentor. The program held a kick-off event this week, where mentees played ice-breaker games while learning more about the requirements of the program.
The program, in its second year, pairs new students with mentors who are supposed to help them adapt to the college environment by teaching them about resources, helping them with any college-related concerns and encouraging them to get involved with the college, according to Kristie Crumley, director of student life.
Crumley said the mentors have a unique role to fill in their mentee’s lives.
“They’re not therapists or moms or tutors or even best friends,” Crumley said. “They’re here to be a friendly face and show them the resources at school and make sure they aren’t running into any major problems.”
The seven mentors will be responsible for about 25 mentees and will give them one-on-one support, Crumley said.
The students who are mentored in the program must be enrolled in a college success class, meet at least five times a semester with their mentors, attend six workshops throughout the year and complete at least 15 hours of community service before April, according to Kim McShane, the program director.
If students complete the requirements and remain full-time students for three semesters, they are given a $500 scholarship, Crumley said.
“Many of our students work to help finance their education, and programs like this may take away from the time they can be working,” Crumley said. “This is a way to make up for that trade off.”
Luke Fisher, a 23-year-old from Gamber, is serving as a mentor this year to help ease the transition for new students.
“Coming into college can be tough because all of the sudden you’re expected to be this mature adult just because you’re not in high school anymore,” Fisher said. “It was tough for me so I want to help someone in that same situation.”
Mentor Becky Hendry, from Taylorsville, said starting college can be especially daunting for students who are the first in their family to do so.
“That can be nerve-racking because you don’t know what to expect and your parents don’t know either so there can be a lot of confusion,” Hendry said. “You sometimes need someone to just help you out and let you know what services are out there for you.”
Ryan Melton, from Hampstead, was mentored last year through the program and is staying involved this year as a mentor.
“The program made me feel so much more connected and made me want to stay on campus after class instead of just going home,” Melton said. “I hope I can help show (mentees) why Carroll is such a great place.”
Information from: Carroll County Times of Westminster, Md., http://www.carrollcounty.com/
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)