AUC’s Peer Mentors: Support for Student Success
Adjusting to university life can be daunting. Offering students advice and counseling, peer mentors like Marwan Kamel aim to smooth the transition.
“I decided to become a peer mentor because I love helping people, especially fellow students on campus,” said Kamel, who is a mechanical engineering graduating senior. “As a peer mentor, my main goal is to help students adjust to life at AUC, both in academic and student life.”
A work-study program in the Office of Student Support, peer mentoring enlists students like Kamel to provide counseling and mentoring to students at AUC. The program also supports students with physical and learning disabilities in order to promote an accessible and hospitable learning environment. This service is free to all AUC students.
For Kamel, building trust is one of the greatest challenges peer mentors face. “Many students don’t trust strangers with their problems,” explained Kamel. “Some students feel embarrassed asking about their problems, like how to study or how to manage their time.”
How do mentors build trust? No matter the issue, Kamel pointed out, the first step to building trust is having mentees admit that they need help. “I always advise students to seek help,” Kamel said. “For example, when I work with students with learning disabilities, I tell them, ‘Your learning disability is a challenge that you have to deal with in order to succeed. Once you recognize that and deal with it, that’s the moment when you can succeed, both on and off campus.’”
According to Kamel, this is also the case for other students he works with who struggle with the transition from high school to university-level academics. “Many students think high school and universities require the same studying techniques, which is not true,” noted Kamel. “There is a big gap between high school and university, so it’s understandable that people may struggle at the beginning. What’s important though is that they find resources to help them early on.”
For Kamel, who has been a peer mentor for two years, the greatest reward is seeing students overcome challenges. “When one of your students succeeds, that’s a huge achievement,” he said. “It feels great that you were able to make a real impact on someone else’s life and help them for the better.
AUC’s peer mentoring program also teaches mentors important skills, Kamel pointed out. Graduating this semester, Kamel expects his new appreciation for diversity to help him in his career. “When you help others, you learn how blessed you are,” he said. “I’ve been exposed to different types of people, and these skills will help me in my future career. I don’t know who I’ll be working with, but I’m confident now that I’ll be able to understand and work alongside all different types of people.”