On October 15th, Palmer Scholars brought the class of 2021 and their mentors together for the first time. While this annual event typically takes place in person, as with many things this year, the Mentor Match night was moved to a virtual format.
Each year, Palmer Scholars recruits leaders in our community to serve as mentors to our Scholars. As Scholars prepare to apply to their postsecondary programs, the guidance of a mentor who has gone through the process themself is priceless, especially as 90% of our Scholars are the first in their families to pursue higher education. Mentors not only commit to guide their Scholar through the application process but also provide additional socioemotional support as the Scholar makes their way through their postsecondary program.
This year, 27 new mentors joined the Palmer Scholars family. Two mentors for the class of 2021 are returning mentors, who have either successfully seen a previous Scholar through to graduation or have decided that they have the capacity to mentor multiple Scholars at the same time. Mentors commit to communicate with their Scholar at least once a month via phone, video call, text, email, or face-to-face.
The virtual meeting included breakout rooms for mentors and Scholars to get to know each other one on one. The Palmer Scholars team put together a mentor/mentee packet that has various activities for Scholars and their mentors to work through together, forming a stronger bond as they move deeper into the packet. Given 15 minutes to move through each section, many commented that the time flew by and that they could hardly finish a few questions because the conversations were so rich.
Matching mentors with Scholars is no easy task. Prospective mentors apply for the position and the Palmer Scholars team conducts interviews and initial trainings. Scholars also submit surveys about their preferences in a mentor. The Palmer Scholars team takes multiple things into consideration when creating matches such as cultural backgrounds, hobbies, and personality types. The Palmer Scholars team works to create the best match possible to strengthen the support network our Scholars have as they move into their postsecondary institution.
Each year, Palmer Scholars recruits 30-35 mentors who possess a wide range of experiences, passions, and goals. Mentors can choose to mentor Scholars who are still in high school, Scholars who are currently in a four-year degree program, or Scholars who are pursuing educational and career pathways in the trades. While the Mentor Match for the Class of 2022 will not be until October of 2021, prospective mentors can apply early, especially if they are interested in mentoring an older Scholar. The mentor application can be found here.