Indiana State’s First-Generation Faculty Mentoring Program aims to ease the transition from high school to college for first-generation college students, a term most commonly defined as students whose parents did not complete a bachelor’s degree.
Jamina Tribbett’s path from Las Vegas to Terre Haute has been guided by mentors, who gave of their time to make sure the Nevada native had the time, space and positive influences she needed to grow her Sycamore roots.
“I knew in high school I didn’t want to go to college anywhere in Nevada,” said Tribbett, a communication major with a concentration in public relations, who completed her first year at Indiana State in the spring. “I want to earn a degree from a place where it would mean something, and not only am I doing that at Indiana State, but Indiana State has become my home.”
The transition from high school to college was made smoother for Tribbett through her involvement in Indiana State’s First-Generation Faculty Mentoring Program, which last spring included 29 students paired with 25 faculty mentors who were also first-generation college students, a term most commonly defined as students whose parents did not complete a bachelor’s degree.
The relationships develop individually and are based on the student’s needs, said James Pond, Indiana State’s assistant coordinator of student success programs. Mentors also serve as guides for their mentees, making them aware of campus resources that students may underutilize or not be aware of.
Because of her participation in the mentoring program and involvement in other campus organizations and academic achievement, Tribbett was awarded the Blue Leaf Award last spring, and she was also nominated for special recognition by her first-generation faculty mentor, Tim Boileau, an instructor in the Bayh College of Education’s Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Media Technology.
“If Jamina has any issues, she knew she could call me. I act as a lifeline that lets her know she isn’t in this alone, and hopefully I make the college experience less intimidating for her,” said Boileau, whose 17 years working in higher education have focused mostly on doctoral and master’s degree students. “(The First-Generation Faculty Mentoring Program) has been great for me. It helps me better understand students at the undergraduate level and is an opportunity to make connections with students and make a difference in their lives. After all, that’s why educators come to work every day.”
Tribbett, who is the youngest of four children, had another lifeline in Leon Jackson, an Indianapolis native who graduated from Indiana State in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and moved to Las Vegas to attend the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, where he is a doctoral candidate in workforce development and organizational leadership.
Jackson is also involved in the city’s Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., which supports the Alpha Men and Divas of Tomorrow — an organization that helps youth develop morally, ethically, professionally and academically.
Tribbett joined the organization during her sophomore year of high school and quickly developed a rapport with Jackson, whom she turned to when she started her college search.
“(Jackson) would tell us about Indiana State and was really supportive of us as we started to research the university, even coming to new student orientation and showing us around the places he used to go when he was a student here,” said Tribbett, who hopes to be an advertising company’s creative director upon graduation. “Without all of the mentors I’ve found, I probably wouldn’t think this was the right place for me, but they all show me things and help me feel invested so I get what I need out of college.”
Through the mentoring program, Tribbett participated in a campus tour and off-campus outings, and Boileau also arranged meetings between Tribbett and his colleagues to give her a better perspective on what higher education is all about.
“These are all small acts that hopefully culminate to help Jamina develop confidence and use her time here to join other networks, create new experiences and eventually pay it forward,” Boileau said. “I had informal mentors all along the way, including aunts and others who believed in me and who were there for moral support. I’ve also been lucky to have former professors and colleagues who helped me along the way, and the First-Generation Faculty Mentoring Program has allowed me to give back by paying it forward as a mentor.”