Laying the foundation for the Loyola experience

How the ALANA Mentor Program sets students up for success—and creates student leaders on campus

For any student who is unsure about fitting in and succeeding at Loyola, I want to share my experience with the ALANA Mentoring Program.

Founded in 2006, the ALANA Mentoring Program (AMP) pairs first-year students with upper-class students to assist them in acclimating to campus life at Loyola University Maryland. The mentors play an integral role in working with students for the first year of their college experience.

Group of students laugh together in a residence hall.

This is a great program in laying the foundation for students of color at Loyola. It will open your eyes to the many things you can do on campus to make you feel surer about your place here—as well as what you are capable of becoming and achieving as a member of the Loyola community.

A group of students enjoy a spring day on the quad. A student advertises for an ALANA club at the student activities fair.

After having an amazing mentee experience my first year, I decided to get involved with AMP as a mentor, mainly for two reasons:

  1. I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone and get involved; and
  2. I wanted to see what it was like to be a leader on campus.

Mentors help first-year students gain an understanding and appreciation of Loyola's campus culture, introduce them to and inform them of co-curricular activities, and assist them with achieving academic and personal growth.

While this program was designed with ALANA students in mind, AMP is not limited to helping students of color. Any Loyola student can take advantage and be matched with a mentor, and I am confident they will have an experience that will take them a long way.

Crafting one-on-one relationships with a mentor

Academic support

My mentor was also a psych major, and she really helped me with the second semester transition, which seems to be the hardest for first-year students.

When I was a mentee my first year, I was nervous to make decisions for myself and didn’t know where to go or who to ask for help. AMP helped me overcome that nervousness and be confident in my decisions.

Mentors teach the mentees through experience, serving as a guide for the mentees through their freshman year. Mentors also ensure mentees are staying in good academic status during those first weeks of college. They encourage check-ins to enforce the idea that faculty office hours are a crucial part of staying ahead of the game, and they make sure they are getting the support and the resources they need to maintain academic excellence.

Social support

AMP gave me a sense of community. It was helpful to have someone I could go to for help, that I could relate with.

AMP supports students socially by introducing mentees to others on campus, so that they feel more at home and can find their people on campus. This could be an introduction to anyone in the Loyola community who will make them feel supported, included, or who might be a good connection for them based on their interests or goals or the challenges they are facing during their first year.

While in AMP, I was able to meet a lot of people I may not have otherwise, students and administrators alike. The program encouraged me to come out of my shell and made me feel more like myself around people I barely knew (which, during your first few months of college, is most people).

Personal support

Talking to [my mentor] lifted my spirits. I could talk to him whenever, wherever—no matter what. He always made time for me.

There is something incredibly powerful about the one-on-one connection with a mentor. It allows the mentee to express their joy, anger, sadness, and concerns. They can share how they feel and ask honest questions, and their mentor may just listen or provide advice that will be suitable to deal with the mentee’s situation (likely from personal experience).

With my mentor, I would share things about my classes, my family, my personal experiences, and other things I needed to let out to a trusted source. I felt comfortable coming to my mentor because they always gave good advice, and I loved that.

Growth as a leader

AMP has held me accountable as a strong leader on campus. I have first-year students looking up to me and seeking advice. Since I want the best for my mentees, I try and live out the best example for them.

Serving as a mentor for AMP was a milestone for me in terms of pushing me beyond my comfort zone. My role as a mentor made me feel more comfortable at Loyola University Maryland. Given that Loyola is a predominantly white institution, I was able to connect with the minority, which made me feel more at home and helped me cope with the challenges that come with that.

Becoming a mentor allowed me to see myself as a leader in new ways and to grow confidence in how I could impact others. I gained a new sense of responsibility and my role in this community. It is important to realize the influence you have over mentees and how much they are relying on you and counting on you to be there for them.

My involvement with this program allowed me to become more of myself and learn new things about myself. 

Learn more about the ALANA Mentor Program