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CMC Rifle’s Peer Mentor program creates helpful student network

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You’ve made the decision. You’re taking the leap and registering for Colorado Mountain College. But now what? Is there someone you can go to for encouragement and inspiration, and to walk with you as you figure out how to incorporate college into your life?

At CMC Rifle, the Peer Mentor program is here to help. Tinker Duclo, CMC vice president and Rifle campus dean, launched the program, collaborating with student mentors Holly Keesee, Chloe Krebill, Alan Muñoz and others wanting to create a student-to-student support system at the campus. The program offers students accessible and relevant sources of support, while mentors benefit from gaining communication, problem-solving and leadership skills.

Duclo said that many mentees in the program have gone on to become peer mentors.

“The network among students, faculty and staff has expanded and strengthened, and our communities have benefitted by the development of the next generation of leaders,” said Duclo.

Campus numbers show that peer mentorship works. Of the 27 first-year students at CMC Rifle who were paired with a mentor during spring 2018, 24 completed their first year of college. Of the 33 mentees who were paired with a mentor in fall 2018, 31 completed their first year of college. The mentors themselves are completing their associate degrees at higher-than-average rates, as well.

Duclo noted that some mentees from the first two years of the program have been challenged by homelessness, incarceration, academic suspension, family fights, breakups, mental health issues and DACA and undocumented status. Still, among that group are those who have earned straight As and landed on the Dean’s and President’s lists.

“More than one mentee has stated that they would not have made it through without their peer mentors,” Duclo said.

Setting up for success

CMC Rifle’s mentor program provides a link between students who are starting college and student mentors who understand what it’s like to be new to the structure and responsibilities of higher education.

Mentees are usually first-year students who have received the CMC President’s Scholarship, a $1,000 scholarship that’s awarded to students who’ve recently graduated from a high school in the CMC district.

 Brenda Walck, former Grand Valley High School counselor, is now an academic advisor and the peer mentor coordinator at CMC Rifle. She’s joined by mentors Krebill and Bianca Godina, who each assist and guide 10 to 13 mentees per semester.

“They set their mentees up for success,” said Walck. “We’re here and we understand orienteering College 101.”

That’s done in a variety of ways: through checking in with each mentee at least once a week, meeting either in person or virtually once a month, providing resources for tutoring, balancing home life, and handling COVID-19 struggles and other factors of busy lives.

For more information about CMC Rifle’s Peer Mentor program, contact Walck at bjwalck@coloradomtn.edu or 970-625-6959.