Department Partakes in Peer Mentoring Program

Friday, August 31, 2018
Students studying

As part of a new initiative sponsored by the Yale College Dean’s Office (YCDO), the Department of Economics is one of a handful departments participating in a student peer mentoring program for STEM majors beginning this fall. Funded by a mini-grant from the Association of American Universities (AAU), the program is intended to bring upper-class majors together with potential first-year and second-year students likely to major in the same field.

The department has selected rising seniors Sarah Hamerling and Catherine Peng as its Economics and Economics & Mathematics mentors for the upcoming year. The primary duty of the mentors is to be available to prospective and current majors for informal advice about the major. In a letter from YCDO Dean, Marvin Chun, the program is designed to “give fellow students a sense of the experience of majoring in a particular field and practical advice on navigating the requirements and electives.”

The program comes on the heels of a successful 2017 pilot program in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry (MB&B) and the Department of Psychology. “I’m delighted that the Department of Economics has selected student peer mentors who can offer advice to the many students interested in majoring in Economics or Economics & Mathematics,” said Dean Chun. “In my department, the Department of Psychology DUS, Professor Woo-Kyoung Ahn, started a student peer mentoring program two years ago, and students found them to be extremely helpful. I hear that the peer mentors find their service to be fulfilling as well.” 

Economics Director of Undergraduate Studies, Professor Ebonya Washington, is also optimistic about the program. “I hope that students will bring to mentors questions that they may be uncomfortable bringing to me,” she said. “I hope they will also bring some of the same questions to get a student perspective. Our major has a real PR problem (people have a narrow view of economics as being only for students interesting in investment banking) and I hope that the mentors can let first and second year students know all of the interesting and important questions one can explore with economics,” Washington continued. 

The mentors are encouraged to host occasional informal, community-building events in the department, as well as accompany Professor Washington and Undergraduate Registrar, Qazi Azam at academic fairs for new or recently admitted students. Professor Washinging is looking for students with mentoring experience and eager to talk about economics. “I’m also eager to see what kind of events they will sponsor, what they feel is the best way to reach the students,” said Washington. Furthermore, she wants students who, “have ideas of what would have been helpful for them to know three years ago.”

As part of the mentors’ training, the YCDO has teamed-up with the 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 teh Economics Peer Mentoring page.