Latino Student Mentoring Program


The Latinx Student Mentoring Program was created in the Fall of 2014 by Juan Flores a Coordinator in the Office of Cultural and Academic Transitions (OCAT) Office.

The primary goals of the First Year Latinx Student Mentoring Program are to provide students with a trusted member of the community, (faculty/staff, & Peer Mentor) to turn to for guidance on issues related to both academic and personal development. The program aims to ease the academic and social transition from high school to college by connecting Latinx students to resources that will help them thrive.

The Mentoring Program has evolved from only matching first year Latinx students to Faculty/Staff mentors to now including Peer Mentors. Due to a huge interest by Latinx student to serve as mentors, we added this component in the Fall of 2017. What makes this program unique is that the mentees have both a Peer and a Faculty/Staff Mentor that guides them and checks in on them throughout their time at MSU.

Since 2014, the program has had a cohort every year and our data shows that it has made a significant impact in the undergraduate experience of the students.


Research shows that mentoring by college faculty has a positive impact on students’ persistence (Titus, 2004) and academic achievement in college (Crisp and Cruz 2009; Terenzini, Psacarella, and Blimling 1996) and helps prepare them to be successful in professional careers (Schlosser, Knox, Oskovitz, and Hill 2003). After one year of mentoring by faculty, students with mentors have higher GPAs and are more likely to stay in college compared to academically similar students who do not have mentors (Campbell and Campbell, 1997). Undergraduates who receive out-of-class mentoring from faculty demonstrated increased academic achievement, while mentored first year students are significantly more likely to return to college for a second year (Terenzini, Psacarella, and Blimling 1996).

The three biggest concerns first-year Latino students generally have about transitioning to college include: 1) adjusting academically. College adjustment can be seen as the “opposite of transitional trauma,” which is defined as the “level of alienation a student experiences when unfamiliar with the norms, values, and expectations that predominate” (Bennett and Okinaka, 1990). 2) meeting new people/getting involved and 3) living away from home (Torres, 2001). The Mentoring Program offers support to first year Latino students from a variety of backgrounds. The Mentoring Program offers this support by providing a one-to-one relationship with an MSU mentor who volunteers to help their new student be successful at MSU. Mentors draw upon their own experiences “ to provide friendship, suggestions and guidance on everything from classes, study strategies, campus organizations and resources, to good eating spots around campus. (Zalaquett and Lopez, 2016)

The primary goals of the First Year Latino Student Mentoring Program are to provide students with a trusted member of the community, faculty/staff, or an upper classman to turn to for guidance on issues related to both academic and personal development, and to provide a means of knowing when a student needs assistance (Oseguera, 2009). Serving as a mentor is one of the most valuable roles a faculty/staff member can play in the academic and personal success of Michigan State University’s new students.  The Mentoring Program aims to ease the academic and social transition from high school to college for first-year students by connecting them to resources that help with this adjustment. In order to help Latinx students graduate at the same rate as other students “we need to make sure there’s support for these students beyond just getting them through the door.” (Chicago Sun Times, 2018)

Students are assigned to a mentor at the beginning of fall semester and meet each other biweekly. Mentor/mentee one-on-one meetings are a key component of the program. Mentors are encouraged to check in biweekly with their mentee. Mentors are expected to talk about effective time management and encourage mentees to participate in campus events/activities and utilize resources throughout the year to enhance the students’ undergraduate experience.

Additionally, the educational future for our nation’s Latino male student population is in a state of peril. Even as the number of Hispanics attending college and attaining degrees has increased steadily in recent years, the proportional representation of Latino males continues to lag behind their female peers (Sáenz & Ponjuán, 2009). Latino males have the lowest high school graduation rates as well as the lowest college enrollment and completion rates of any subgroup. In 2009, more than 61% of all associate or bachelor’s degrees earned by Hispanics were earned by female students, and this degree attainment gap is only growing wider (NCES, 2010). What we know can be summed up succinctly: Latino males are struggling to keep pace relative to their male and female peers at key transition points along the education pipeline: at college entry, and at college completion. As of 2019, at Michigan State University the six-year graduation rate for Latinos is 61.5% compared to 80.9% for white students. Furthermore, the six-year graduation rate of Latino males at Michigan State University is 57.5% compared to 79.1% for white males. This has caused the Latino/White six-year graduation rate gap widen over time to 19.4.

Program goals:

  • To increase the retention and graduation rates of Latino students.
  • To promote excellence.
  • To promote students’ self-confidence.
  • To advance students’ knowledge of campus resources.
  • To encourage students’ development of supportive relationships with other students, faculty and staff (community building).
  • To help students develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for successful completion of their academic and career goals.
  • To develop leadership skills to enable the students to become future student leaders.
  • To connect the students with professional and academic organizations.
  • To help make college an exciting, fulfilling and successful experience.

Mentors have the opportunity to:   

  • Assist new students with their transition.
  • Provide a trusted source of guidance and informed support. 
  • Help students learn more about academic and non-academic opportunities.
  • Provide guidance to students about how to succeed. 
  • Share specific knowledge and insights about their own areas of expertise. 
  • Meet and interact with other faculty/staff members from a broad range of disciplines. 
  • Significantly impact the lives of our undergraduate Latino students.

Students have the opportunity to:

  • Form a personal connection with a faculty/staff member.
  • Learn more about academic and non-academic opportunities.
  • Receive guidance and informed support from a knowledgeable and approachable source.
  • Gain insight and tips on college and life success.
  • Have a mentor through their new and sometimes confusing first year.
  • Receive a letter of recommendation from a faculty/staff member.
  • Gain support for academic pursuits and personal development.
  • Get assistance/referrals to improve academic skills such as writing, note-taking, time management, and stress management skills.
  • Become aware of campus student organizations, activities and services.
  • Receive information about internships and job opportunities on and off campus

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