To create a sense of community among undergraduate economic students during the pandemic, specifically between underclassmen and upperclassmen students, the Economics Peer Mentors created a Big-Sib/Little-Sib Program last semester. According to peer mentor Alya Ahmed, the initiative started organically.
“We received so many emails from students and we kept finding ourselves connecting underclassmen to our upperclassmen friends within the major, who could speak with more experience to these specific questions and act as mentors or guides to underclassmen as they navigate the major,” said Ahmed.
To drive interest, the mentors sent out survey forms to both underclassmen and upperclassmen inquiring about participating in the program as either a big sib or little sib.” The form also allowed students to express a preference on whether they were seeking a mentor/mentee, a new friend, a study buddy, or simply exposure to the major through a brief conversation.
The response was quite surprising, with more than 160 underclassmen replying to the form and with a majority of the respondents seeking mentors. The responses were then categorized based on set criteria, including career interests, personality traits, research/economic interests, etc. to find the best pairing. “We didn’t expect there to be so much interest!” said Ahmed.
Speaking from personal experience, Ahmed said, “I’ve learned the most useful insights from talking to other upperclassmen about classes and even career paths.”
Last term, the mentors matched the big sib/little sibs and held a competition for the best/funniest “sibling family” photo. The winners all received gift cards.
According to senior mentor Lara Varela Gajewski, she hopes the program will create a “closer-knit feel in the large major, and provide more mentoring opportunities to students”
The mentors plan to hold other fun events in the spring which will be announced soon, and are holding a Tobin RA panel discussion on Tuesday, February 2, at 7:00 pm EST. More information about the program and upcoming events can be found on the Peer Mentor Program page.