Leaving a life of familiarity and heading off to college can bring about a flurry of thoughts to the minds of many new students and their families as they begin the transition to college life. However, through a program within the Division of Student Affairs at Virginia Tech, students don’t have to make that transition alone. Each One Reach One, a peer mentoring program, was developed to support first-year students as they begin their collegiate journey at Virginia Tech.
Each One Reach One started as a shared vision between the late Vice President for Student Affairs Zenobia Lawrence Hikes and Ray Williams, director of Multicultural Programs and Services. In the fall of 2006 their vision was realized, and the Each One Reach One peer mentoring program began assisting first-year and transfer students by pairing them with upper-class or graduate mentors. The relationship that develops between them encourages academic success, campus and community involvement, and pride in the institution for the new student.
“Few activities are as important in the transition and development of new students as the relationships that are established with helpful peers upon arrival at campus,” Williams said. “The Each One Reach One program offers incoming students immediate contact with successful upper-class students who volunteer their time and who have a genuine interest in the success of their peers.”
The Each One Reach One peer mentoring program focuses its agenda around activities that promote campus resources, leadership opportunities, and personal growth. Although the program was founded with underrepresented student populations in mind, all students are invited and welcome to join.
Mentors are chosen through an extensive application and interview process and are trained to serve as reliable resources to new students. Since its inception, the level of involvement with the program has grown.
Kristen Swanson Houston, assistant director of Multicultural Programs and Services and coordinator of Each One Reach One, said, “I hope to see continued growth in the number of students who want to serve as mentors. Many of the Each One Reach One mentors serve in their role because of their past experience as a mentee in the program. Their mentor influenced them enough that they want to give back to others. I think that their willingness to serve as mentors is confirmation that the program is meaningful and important to them.”
Gordon M. Curry of Stafford, Va., a graduate student in the department of communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, was a mentor in 2006 when Each One Reach One was introduced. Serving students once again, Curry said he expects to get to know a younger generation of Hokies and share his knowledge of Virginia Tech living.
For Curry, being a mentor is all about helping without hovering. “Mentorship comes in many different forms,” he said. “Originally, my perception of being a mentor was that I had to be there for every step of my mentee’s development…but we’re busy and that’s not exactly possible. What I think is important is that my mentees know that they can come to me for something. I reinforce the fact that I am available to help.”
“So far the program has been helpful in terms of allowing me to make a healthy transition from high school to college,” Austin said. “It helps to know that in a big school such as this one that you can count on someone for guidance and understanding.”
As a mentor for the second time, Curry said he hopes to see more students, especially young men, get involved with the program.
“Each One Reach One has grown so much since the first time I was a mentor,” Curry said. “There is definitely a tighter connection between the mentors and mentees. The cool thing is that just as people are different, every mentoring relationship is going to look different.”
Each One Reach One, like many other programs and services within the Division of Student Affairs, helps personify the Hokie spirit of community, service, and success.
Each One Reach One emphasizes the importance of service and social responsibility that is expected throughout the Virginia Tech community.
Hokie Camp is a non-mandatory welcoming experience that gives Virginia Tech’s newest students an opportunity to learn more about time-honored university traditions, respect for diversity, and the community-oriented spirit that thrives throughout campus and the Town of Blacksburg.
Take a look back at previous Spotlight features in our archive.