1. Wendy Alemán Sp 2006 practicum journal
Discussion related to the CSSA program competencies
Work on the Peer Mentoring Program began during my summer experience in the
College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP). At the time it was just an idea; thinking
about it, strategizing a plan was something that was extra to the main duties of my
position at the time. In addition, I had noticed it was in the grant and that no one was
actually doing anything to make it happen. So, after many hours of research on models, I
proposed the final model. At the time, I didn’t know that I would be the person to
actually make the idea a reality. It took some time to get the program going. Once we
decided that I would take the plan and move it into action, I had to figure out what the
mentors would do and I had to find them. So, it was a bit of a recruiting event. However,
before I even got to recruiting I had to set up the training. Among things to think about in
organizing training were the objectives of the program, important information the
mentors need, and what defines a successful mentor relationship. After the mentors were
selected, I organized a small committee of students who knew the incoming freshman to
help with matches. We spent a lot of time going through potential matches until we came
up with matches we all felt good about.
Because there were so many variables and complexities to this experience, I really
felt that I met several competencies. In terms of program planning, I found it hard to find
locations to meet late in the term that would allow me to purchase cheap food. Moreover,
it was very challenging to try to find times to meet for over 40 students. On top of this, I
found it difficult, other than the first meeting, to come up with activities for matches to do
2. together during the meeting time. I wanted the students to get an opportunity to get to
know each other and at the same time I did not want their relationships to be forced. As
a result, some students met with each other regular whereas some matches barely saw
each other. I had one match where the mentor tried so many times to get in touch with
his Mentee that he finally gave up and felt totally discouraged. He was initially the most
excited and enthusiastic mentor and later plummeted to the least interested as a result of
the mentee’s lack of interest in returning his calls or replying to his emails.
In addition to program planning, I incorporated student development theory into
my training and my planning. During the mentor training I talked about the identity
develop of the incoming students and talked about Vasti Torres theory of Latino identity
development. I also used theory in my planning to help me determine the kind of
support the incoming students might need in their transition to their first year of college.
While it was the first year of the program, assessment was important for
understanding ways to improve the program for the next year. I received lots of good
feedback in the assessment and was able to better see where the program could use more
support or structure for the next year.
Competencies or other learning outcomes that I acquired but did NOT expect to gain from
the practicum experience:
I did not expect to do too much work in the area of “Individual, Group, and
Organizational Communication” as the coordinator of the program, however, I found that
I needed to provide a lot of encouragement to some matches. In addition, I found that I
needed a lot more support from other staff members and from other departments to make
the program successful. The program needs a lot of attention, not just to the
3. organizational details and logistics, but a lot more attention to the relationships which
develop or do not develop as a result of the match.
Observations, reactions, and analyses related to your experience, compelling readings, or
other points of interest as they relate to your practicum
I have been thinking about what is going to happen to this program next year.
Because it is part of the CAMP grant, there is no question that it must continue; however,
it needs a lot more attention than 90 plus hours of practicum work. I am thinking of
proposing make the coordinator practicum into a job for an upperclass student who is
familiar with the Latino community on campus. Ideally, a student who has experience
the program as a mentor or a Mentee would be perfect for the position. I think that the
program could blossom with commitment from the program and the right amount of time
devoted to developing it.
Overall, it was a really nice experience to have an opportunity to get to know the
current students in the program. In the year that I have an opportunity to work with these
students, I have grown so attached to them. Even though they will all still be on campus
next year, I will miss the opportunity to work with them in the same capacity.