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Become a Mentor to a Nevada Promise Student

Student meeting with a mentor.
Rebecca A. Eckland

While scholarship dollars are undeniably helpful to college students—releasing them from the burden of student loans or working quite so many hours en route to their undergraduate degrees—scholarships alone don’t guarantee a student’s success. Like most things in life, scholarships gain meaning when they are accompanied by the support and guidance of someone who can offer advice based on life experiences. In other words, a mentor. 

The Nevada Promise Scholarship requires its recipients to be paired with a mentor, and this Fall we’re asking you to consider playing this important role. “The experience was incredibly rewarding with minimal effort,” said Dr. Mindy Lokshin, who has been a mentor to Nevada Promise students for two years. “The management of the program by the Nevada Promise staff is exceptional... and the expectations of the program are simple and clear, and require little time,” she said.

Even though it won’t take much time, acting as a mentor can have a lasting impact on a student’s academic and professional future. Mentors can help college students succeed by providing them with emotional and instrumental support as they navigate the (sometimes) complicated world of higher education. This can be especially true of Nevada Promise Students who are starting their college careers at TMCC, and who are experiencing registration, Financial Aid and other college processes for the first time. 

“We don't need our mentors to be college admission experts, we need mentors who are willing to be a helping hand,” said  Angela South, Nevada Promise Scholarship Coordinator. “We welcome people from all walks of life.”

Your mentoring commitment would begin in the spring semester and you get to decide how many mentees you’d like to be assigned. Only one meeting with your mentees is needed to fulfill their scholarship requirements. 

Keep reading if you: 

  • Are at least 21 years old
  • Can successfully pass a criminal background check
  • Can commit to 3-5 hours per semester
  • Can complete one mandatory training session

Nevada Promise Scholarship Mentors aren’t paid, but they do get the satisfaction to positively impact a young person’s life in their first two years of college. “If you're considering mentoring but not sure if you're the right fit, I'd like you to think of a time in your life when you struggled,” said South. “Maybe you weren't sure what profession you wanted to pursue, or not sure how to advocate for yourself, wouldn't it have been easier to have someone who you could just talk to?” 

At this point, you might be wondering: how much time does it take to serve as a mentor?  Typically, most mentors will commit 3-5 hours per semester helping their Nevada Promise Scholar to fulfill specific requirements and deadlines required by the scholarship.  Considering an academic semester is 16 weeks long, that’s less than ten minutes a week, which is about as much time as it takes to unload a dishwasher. (Yes, that’s really it!) 

What Do Mentors Actually Do? 

Aside from answering that question vaguely, as in “mentors change lives!” it might be useful to give you an idea of what most mentors do when they meet with their Nevada Promise Students for the first time:

  1. Get to know each other.  Typically, mentors ask their students about their degree, their hobbies, what they like to do with their free time, their family. You can share with them a little about you— your profession and knowledge about your field. Share why you are enthusiastic about what you do, and the goals you’ve set for yourself.  Maybe an interesting detail to share would be what choices you would make it if you could go to college all over again or what other professions might you have explored. What would you change based on the challenges you faced and the lessons you learned?
  2. Get the scoop on what steps they’ve done to complete the Nevada Promise Scholarship requirements. Next, you’ll probably want to ask your mentee why they applied for the Nevada Promise Scholarship, what their goals are, and what Nevada Promise steps they’ve completed.  This creates an ideal opportunity to talk about upcoming Nevada Promise dates and deadlines. You are not required to track all of their steps, but by asking them what they’ve completed you also give them a friendly nudge of what they still need to complete.
  3. Share your goals and the reason why you became their mentor. Think about your goals as this mentee’s mentor. Talk to your mentee about your goals for them and what you would like them to accomplish. Share your expectations of them, and don’t be afraid of holding your mentee to high standards; they need to know that you believe they can accomplish great things.
  4. Set up expectations and a communication plan that you will both stick to. Let your mentee know how you prefer to communicate with them (phone, email or through established in-person meetings) and how often you will be communicating with them. It’s OK if you can only commit to the minimum requirements, but share these expectations clearly during your first meeting with your mentee. 

Where you meet and the duration of your meetings is entirely up to you as long as you meet in a public setting. Some mentors prefer to meet on TMCC’s campus, either by booking a classroom, picking a spot in the library or cafe. Other mentors prefer a local coffeehouse or to conduct the meeting during a walk by the Truckee River or a jog. Whatever you choose, be sure to convey that you believe in their ability to overcome challenges and to succeed.

“The rewards are immense,” said Lokshin. “[As a mentor], I have seen students grow and mature from timid high school students scared to dream, into mature young adults able to navigate the college system and successfully achieve big goals.” 

For more information on becoming a mentor for a Nevada Promise Scholarship recipient, contact the office of the Nevada Promise Scholarship at 775-673-8236.