Mi Comunidad mentorship program fosters community

Mi Comunidad, which means “My Community,” is a student-run mentoring program run by graduate and professional students affiliated with the Latin@ Graduate Students Coalition (LGSC) and supported by the Latina/o Studies Program and the Latina/o Student Success Office.

“The goal was to create a program that was more focused on fostering friendships than professional relationships,” said Andrea Monge, a doctoral student studying policy analysis and management, who is the lead facilitator of the mentorship program, which was founded in 2015 by doctoral students Esmeralda Arrizón-Palomera, English; Franccesca Kazeroonier, communication and Erica Salinas, government.

The program connects Latinx undergraduate students to graduate students in hopes of easing students’ transition to higher education, encouraging community engagement and helping students manage academics.

“Our first year we did the traditional graduate student and undergraduate student pairing and it worked really well,” Monge said. “We saw wonderful friendships develop, but we also noticed some gaps in our program. So we changed the structure of the program to what it is today and we’ve had great results.”

The program provides a community and safe space in the Latina/o Studies office in Rockefeller Hall and monthly meet-ups. The meetups build relationships between graduate student mentors and undergraduate mentees.

“I joined the program last October because I wanted to find a network of students from all sorts of backgrounds,” Eileen Morocho ‘19 said.

Morocho, an animal science major, is responsible for supporting the connections between mentors and their mentees and organizing the monthly meetups.

“A mentoring program like Mi Comunidad creates space for us to come together,” Monge said. “Not only to ease any preconceived worries and anxieties about the university, but also to evaluate the status of Latina/o students at Cornell and take the necessary steps to address the problems affecting our students.”

The mentorship program is growing. Since 2015, 37 undergraduate student mentees have participated, while 33 graduate students have volunteered to be mentors.

“This program is important primarily because it can provide a backbone for people who feel lost, confused or even worried about their future,” Morocho said, “The program was established to help them figure out what they wish to pursue during their years at Cornell.”

“I hope in the future, Mi Comunidad can help and provide a gateway for people to just be themselves and to be proud of all their accomplishments in life,” Morocho said.

Yvette Lisa Ndlovu is a communications assistant for the College of Arts & Sciences.

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