The transition from high school to college isn’t easy, from the new educational structure to living with someone you may have never met before. Sometimes, all a new student needs is a mentor and a solid group of friends to have their back before starting their first year of college. The Jump Start program provides just that.
Jump Start started as a way for incoming freshmen and transfer students to get a “jumpstart” on life at SRU. According to second-year mentor Amir Hill-Davis, participating freshmen and transfer students, or mentees, are assigned to an upperclassman mentor. The mentees move into SRU one week before classes actually start so they can begin the Jump Start process.
“The goal is to get the mentees here a week early so they can adjust to college, have a set group of friends they can always rely on and have an older mentor who can look out for them,” Hill-Davis said.
During their first week here, the mentees attend a number of meetings and activities about important issues like study skills, dealing with homesickness and generally adjusting to college life. The Jump Start program gives the freshmen involved the chance to start working on these issues with a smaller group of their peers as opposed to the 1,500 new students total.
Hill-Davis actually began his own journey at SRU through Jump Start. The junior Homeland Security major said his freshman year was “a lot of fun” because he got the chance to get to know people and make friends before the first day of classes, like other freshman mentees and the upperclassmen mentors.
“When my mentor left [the University], another mentor kind of stepped in as my honorary mentor, and he’s actually one of my best friends to this day,” Hill-Davis said.
His experience during his first year was so positive, he decided he wanted to become a mentor himself. Hill-Davis’s time as a mentee in the program had a lot of impact on his mentoring style, and he’s expressed interest in continuing in Jump Start through his senior year. His mentees this year are “like little sisters” to him.
“I have an open dialogue and relationship with my mentees,” Hill-Davis said. “I’m 100-percent honest with them at all times, I let them ask me any questions and I treat them like family from the moment I meet them, just so they feel as comfortable as possible.”
After starting his third year in the Jump Start program, Hill-Davis remarked that his favorite part about the program is all the new people he gets to meet. From incoming freshmen and transfer students every year to all of the new mentors who apply, he loves meeting new people and making new friends through the program.
In the future, Hill-Davis hopes Jump Start continues to expand, welcoming more and more members every year.
“It’s going to require a lot more hard work, and it’s going to be a lot more time-consuming, but having that opportunity for more people to come in will be great,” Hill-Davis said.