Pathways Peer Mentors help Basic Education students along their educational journeys
Students who enroll in Basic Education at Clark College often find themselves facing a host of challenges.
What kind of challenges? “Oh my gosh, there are so many!” exclaims Pathways Peer Mentor Jamie Brindley-Bagent. “Everyone has different stories: if you don’t have money, if you don’t have parents to help you, if you don’t have a place to stay, if you think of yourself as dumb.”
Thankfully, students enrolled in Clark’s Adult Basic Education–as well as its English as a Second Language and IBEST programs–can turn to their Pathways Peer Mentors (PPMs) for support and advice when the road gets rough. PPMs are fellow students who have successfully transitioned from ABE, GED, and/or ESL programs to college-credit academic classes at Clark–or who are first-generation college students. Their unique experience gives them insight into the challenges faced by their peers, allowing them to provide necessary support, guidance and encouragement to help those peers stay in school and achieve their long-term educational goals.
This year’s Pathways Peer Mentors are:
Jamie Brindley-Bagent, 19, grew up in Vancouver. She is studying criminal psychology and hopes to earn her master’s degree in this field, eventually becoming a detective. “I know it’s really hard to go to college and I want to show people that they can do it,” she says.
Mark Damian, 17, grew up in St. Petersburg, Russia. He is pursuing an associate transfer degree, with the goal of becoming an engineer. A Running Start student, he enjoys working as a Peer Mentor because “there’s a lot of opportunity to make new friends.”
Alana Leon-Guerrero, 21, is originally from the island of Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands. Currently studying for her Associate of Arts degree, she plans to transfer to Washington State University Vancouver after graduating from Clark. “I decided to become a Pathways Peer Mentor because I want to help people and let them know that there are a lot of resources on campus.”
Julie Mercado, 21, began at Clark taking ESL classes; she currently is enrolled in the I-BEST Academic program, which allows students to enroll in academic classes while simultaneously receiving Adult Basic Education assistance within the class. A native of Guadalajara, Mexico, she came to the United States at age 18. “Now that I am a Pathways Peer Mentor, I get the satisfaction of seeing how we help people,” says the aspiring elementary teacher.
Seunghyun Roh is from South Korea, where he learned to enjoy helping students during his time as an English tutor. Now studying at Clark through International Programs, he decided to become a Peer Mentor because he “wanted to have more experience with people from other countries.” He hopes to become an engineer.
Chantear Song, 26, grew up in Washington state. She is studying elementary education. “My goal for the future is to be a bright, influential teacher for students,” she says, adding that she chose to become a Pathways Peer Mentor to “challenge myself, get out of my comfort zone, and help people.”
This year, the PPMs have begun using a new tool in their work: bright-orange “Look for the Good and Praise It!” appreciation note cards. These notes offer students, staff, and others a vehicle for offering thanks and encouragement. “It’s one thing to talk about the power of appreciation; it’s another thing to experience its uplifting, invigorating impact,” says Marilyn Sprague, PPM Program Coordinator. “With the appreciation note cards, PPM mentors have a simple, easy-to-use tool guaranteed to build ABE/ESL students’ confidence.”
The notecards are available in the Pathways Center (TBG 229).
Story co-written with Suzanne Smith
Photo: Clark College/Jenny Shadley