Training mentors for 21st Century Scholars

2013-12-25T22:30:00Z 2013-12-26T22:29:05Z Training mentors for 21st Century ScholarsCarmen McCollum carmen.mccollum@nwi.com, (219) 662-5337 nwitimes.com

While most Hoosier students in the 21st Century Scholars program graduate high school and attend college, a study indicates only about 1 in 10 of those scholars graduate from college on time.

In addition, the data -- from Indiana Commission for Higher Education -- shows that only 3 in 10 earn a degree at all.

Indiana Youth Institute President and CEO Bill Stanczykiewicz said the youth institute hopes to improve those statistics by assisting with a mentoring program. He said mentors play a crucial role in supporting the 21st Century Scholars as they enter and continue postsecondary education.

"What the commission noted is that, since those students have funding to attend school, the commission wanted to focus on other issues in the student's life," he said.

"The student could be the first in his/her family to go to school or not be fully aware of how to navigate the campus."

If mentors are in place in a student's life when the student is a junior in high school to help them through that transition, the commission believes the student will be more successful in college, Stanczykiewicz said.

The Indiana Youth Institute is facilitating the mentoring program for 21st Century Scholars, and working in partnership with other mentoring programs to provide training and technical assistance to mentors. This past fall, the youth institute offered workshops to train mentors in helping scholars with things like study skills, time management, adjusting to life on campus, financial literacy and accessing campus resources.

Eddie Melton, manager of corporate citizenship and employee involvement at NIPSCO, said many NIPSCO employees are involved in the program as mentors. He said their involvement helps them to develop a "pipeline" of future NIPSCO employees.

"We hope to educate students on possible careers in energy and encourage them to remain in the state," Melton said.

Melton said NIPSCO partners with Calumet College and Ivy Tech for dual credit programs. That way, some students start college with up to 12 college credits.

"We pair the students up with a NIPSCO employee, someone who can motivate them to do well in school and participate in extracurricular activities," he said. "The Urban League also has been active and helped the students with financial aide and transportation issues."

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