Mentorship for graduate students expands
Loneliness and isolation are feelings that can grip graduate students. But, there’s a team of graduate students at the Faculty of Education who are helping their peers overcome them.
The Education Graduate Student Association’s mentorship program has kicked off for another academic year, and this year, the mentorship program has expanded to include Master of Arts (MA) students.
Second-year MA student and mentorship committee member, Gabrielle Cohen, said the program now includes MA students because social and academic support from peers will help them deal with the intensity of graduate school.
“They’re coming from their undergrad, which is completely different than the master’s experience,” said Cohen. “I wanted to build a community where we can support each other with that transition to graduate studies.”
Cohen’s expectations for the kick off were surpassed with 17 MA students attending the get together.
Mentorship committee member, Sarah Hennessy, said isolation is a challenge for master’s and doctoral students. The feeling generally occurs after course work has been completed and the thesis work begins. Now, students have a support group where they can ask questions and share what they’ve learned from their supervisors as well as talk about how their academic work is affecting their mental health.
“All of sudden, I’m not alone,” said Hennessy. “It’s really nice to be able to find somebody who’s already been through that step with you.”
The program is student led. Faculty members aren’t affiliated with the group because the goal is for graduate students to help graduate students. Some of the assistance includes helping students navigate Western, London, and Canada.
Graduate students are matched based on their research interest or academic advisor. It’s up to each pair to decide how and when they will communicate with each other. However, they can use resources on Western’s online learning platform, such as participating in online discussions and in online group meetings, to facilitate mentorship relationships.
Giving back to the Faculty is also why committee members are involved.
“It’s our responsibility to be grateful and to extend this to as many students as possible so they can benefit from similar experiences,” said coordinator of the Education Graduate Students Association, Mohammed Estaiteyeh.