The Department of Economics three peer mentors are ready to assist and advise prospective students about the Economics major. This year’s peer mentors are Derek Chen, ‘22; Jack Kelly, ‘22; and Salma Shaheen, ‘22.
“The peer mentor programs have offered me a safe and inclusive space to ask any questions I want regarding classes, research opportunities, the major, and beyond,” said Salma Shaheen who is serving as a first-time mentor. Thankful to former mentors’ encouragement, Shaheen said she was better able to navigate the requirements. “Peer mentors walked me through all majors, helped me choose classes, and introduced me to research opportunities.”.
The primary duty of the mentors is to be available to prospective and current majors for informal advice about the major and give practical advice on navigating the requirements and electives.
Sponsored by the Yale College Dean’s Office (YCDO) and funded by a mini-grant from the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Department of Economics is participating in its fourth year of the program which targets STEM majors. The initiative’s intent is to bring upper-class majors together with potential first-year and second-year students likely to choose the same field.
“I enjoy helping students who, like me, were unsure about majoring in Economics,” said Derek Chen, who is a returning mentor. “Peer mentors helped me, and I wish to pass it along,” he added.
Echoing Chen, fellow mentor Shaheen said, “I am very excited to be an Economics peer mentor for Economics students from diverse backgrounds. This is an opportunity for all students to share any and all questions and concerns with us all the time.” Continuing, she said, ”The Economics Peer Mentor Program not only helped me get through these challenges through a variety of events but also allowed me to build an extensive network at Yale and meet faculty members who support me in every step of my journey.”
Shaheen added that as an international student, she faced many challenges during her journey at Yale, including navigating the major, internship opportunities, or becoming more proficient in English. ”This is also an opportunity for me as a mentor to reflect on my previous challenges to better help my peers and prospective students who might face similar situations,” she said.
The mentors are encouraged to host occasional informal, community-building events in the department. Furthermore, they accompany the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Professor Giovanni Maggi, and Undergraduate Registrar, Qazi Azam at academic fairs for new or recently admitted students.
While all of last year’s events were virtual, Chen is hopeful that more students will participate at the in-person events scheduled for this year. “I hope these in-person events will allow students to connect with peers, professors, and industry professionals,” said Chen.
The mentors are looking into hosting several events over the upcoming year, including “Bluebooking” events, weekly office hours, and a big sib/little sib program across the department. The mentors would like to continue efforts in diversifying the Department of Economics by planning career panels and inviting speakers from a wide range of backgrounds and interests. These panels will be an opportunity for students to get a sense of the wide range of career opportunities that the Economics major offers outside Yale.
As part of the mentors’ training, the YCDO has teamed up with the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL). Jenny Frederick, CTL Director of Education, said the training will “emphasize principles of strong mentoring and strategies for addressing challenges that might come up, and review basic compliance for issues such as inclusivity and title IX reporting responsibilities.”
For more information about the program, as well as event dates and times, see the Economics Peer Mentoring page.