Connections, General, Get involved, People, Student Life

Learning Through Mentorship

Working with children and with younger students has been a constant passion for me since I started babysitting in grade eight. Whenever I’ve had a stressful day, hanging out with kids always takes me out of my head, makes me laugh, and leaves me feeling refreshed and energized. I’ve sought out a lot of mentorship experiences on campus for those reasons, both with elementary and university students. Talking someone else through their problems not only helps me feel more focused and less alone but also guides me through solving my own problems.

Three children hugging

Source: H.P. League of Champions

Two mentorship experiences at U of T have stood out most for me. The first was being a commuter don in my third year at Victoria College. All residences have dons, and most colleges now have commuter dons now too; if you love to help people, plan events, and speak with students one-on-one, I’d highly recommend checking out these positions. Every part of my job — organizing workshops and free food events; talking people through tough times; being part of such a driven and compassionate don team — felt meaningful. In training for this position, I also got very familiar with all the resources U of T has to offer — and there are a lot; my first year would’ve been significantly easier if I’d known about them all. I can now say firsthand that dons love hearing from students, especially from new people, so don’t ever hesitate to go to an event (even if you’re alone) or stop by office hours for some free tea, chocolates, and chats.

Victoria College Don Team 2015-2016

Source: Victoria College

My second mentorship role at U of T is through a capstone course that I am currently taking through Victoria College; applications for the course are open to everyone. We meet biweekly throughout the year, and it counts for a half-credit. The bulk of the coursework revolves around mentoring first-year seminars: meeting one-on-one with students, making handouts, pointing them towards both personal and academic resources. Currently, there are only seven students in my class, which means that we’ve gotten quite comfortable with each other and with our wonderful professor, Dr. Urbancic. The seminars revolve around mentorship strategies, resources, and general interpersonal skills. I’ve always found such leadership development workshops not only helpful in mentoring but also in my everyday life. Since going through training, I feel that my relationships have grown stronger, and I’m better able to listen and offer the right kind of support to my friends.

Group of CCP volunteers

Source: U of T News

I didn’t realize this until recently, but U of T also offers several experiences working with children. Just this January, I started volunteering at a TDSB school, in a grade 7 classroom, through the Youth Mentorship Program (YMP) at the U of T Centre for Community Partnerships (CCP). The CCP office also runs a literacy program, From 3 To 3, which I’ve wanted to be a part of since I heard of it. This office is one I wish I’d explored more during my time at U of T as they provide such great opportunities for involvement around the city.

These are just some of the many mentorship opportunities available on campus. Others can be more program-specific or situation-specific. So if you’re either looking for support or for occasions to help out, there’s no shortage here.