CSUSB’s Second Year Mentoring Program was renamed to Lead, Innovate, Network, and Know (LINK) Program at the end of Fall 2019. The program continues to serve with a new focus on becoming more inclusive and providing extensive help and guidance to the student body.
“This program first started as a second year mentoring, but we felt that everyone can benefit from what LINK has to offer,” CSUSB Alumna and University of Redlands graduate student, Carolina Meza, said. “Therefore, we extended our services to more than just the second year. The student mentoring program on campus does a great job in serving freshman, so we increased our population to serve transfer and continuing CSUSB students, which is everyone but freshmen.”
LINK began with six leaders, which has increased to nine, who work for the program, including Meza as the lead coordinator.
The LINK leaders are the mentors who are assigned with students, known as LINK members, based on what the students’ majors are. LINK leaders provide their members with resources to help with career readiness, career exploration, and gaining a sense of belonging and purpose on campus.
The leaders are to help their members find internships, clubs, workshops, and study abroad programs that are tailored to each member’s career goals and interests.
LINK leaders also provide their members with academic and personal guidance. One example is if a member is nervous about going to an event, a LINK leader can go with them.
Maryann Gallegos is currently a third-year student at CSUSB who works as a LINK leader. Her volunteer experience working with an organization that supported youth made her want to work for the program.
“Being part of LINK means being able to connect with others and being able to support our members. I am able to support my members by having an open space for them to meet with me and discuss anything that they would like, specifically academics or career-based topics, as well as their overall wellness, during this time,” stated Gallegos.
In this program, there is an emphasis on guiding students with not only identifying their major, but identifying, too, what they want to do with that major, as well as making post-graduation plans.
“LINK hopes for all members to have an e-portfolio to showcase their transferable skills and accomplishments, so they can become better prepared for the job market or graduate school,” said Meza.
Meza believes there is always room for improvement. She has graduate students who attend the University of Redlands work with the LINK leaders to help them learn and improve their mentoring skills.
Graduate student Evan Tellez has been helping LINK leaders since the beginning of the program.
Tellez is working towards receiving his M.A. in Higher Education for Student Affairs from the University of Redlands. Before attending graduate school, he had work experience within higher education such as peer-advising, orientation experience, and some administrative work.
“As a graduate student, I have learned to validate and accept the student body by learning different student models, allowing me to have an understanding that every student has their own unique experience. It has been easy for me to connect and build rapport with the Leaders. Once I had the connection establish, helping them complete the job task, getting to know them and helping learn and improve themselves has become an enjoyable task,” expressed Tellez.
Meza also encourages the LINK leaders to design projects, specialties, and tasks that would enhance their overall growth.
One of the projects promoted creating a one-hour workshop, to be hosted by a LINK leader, on a topic of their choice and inviting all LINK members to join.
“In the previous quarters, LINK gave about five workshops per quarter. Now they are presenting nine presentations this quarter,” stated Meza.
The various workshop topics include essential study habits, intersectionality, time management, culture shock, test anxiety, and more.
As CSUSB has transitioned its services to an online setting, the LINK Leaders are meeting with their members via Zoom.
All those who are part of the program have weekly one-hour meetings via Zoom to discuss ways to let students know about the program and discuss any resources that have the potential to help the members with their academic journey.
Additionally, Meza meets with each LINK leader one-on-one to check in with them to reflect and talk about how their meetings with their members are going, if they have any questions or suggestions for her to improve their overall work experience, and review their list of weekly tasks to see if completed.
“We hope to increase our LINK program by informing all students about the support that LINK leaders provide. We are in the process of updating our website and social media platforms to make LINK more accessible to all students,” said Meza.