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Program lets students connect with alumni mentors

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Alek Druk and his mentor Dr. Robert Panther. Photo courtesy of ----

Alek Druk and his mentor Dr. Robert Panther. Photo courtesy of Daniel DeWeerdt.

Alek Druck, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, came to Marquette wanting to be a doctor but was unsure that his dream was feasible.

Marquette’s Alumni Association Mentor Program matched him with a doctor and helped him “solidify” his career path.

“You come to college and don’t know what you want to do or even if you can do it,” Druck said. “Talking with my mentor and seeing how they went through college is a big help and reassures me that I am doing what I am supposed to do.”

The program is in its second year and selects Marquette sophomores, juniors and seniors out of an application pool and pairs them with an alumni mentor who either graduated with the same major or has a career that matches up with the student’s aspirations.

The program, although relatively new, is already overwhelmed with applicants. Daniel DeWeerdt, the head of the program, said in an email that 300 students applied this year, marking a 20 percent increase from the previous year. Overall, the program admitted 70 students.

“The success of the program can be attributed in large part to the strong partnership with faculty and staff in the participating colleges,” DeWeerdt said. “The program has already netted significant results between mentees and mentors. Along with meeting and exceeding the mentees’ goals thanks to the partnership with their mentors, mentees have also secured a full-time position following graduation as well as internships thanks to their mentors.”

DeWeerdt said he considers several aspects of the program beneficial, including the opportunity for students to work directly with a Marquette graduate, the chance for alumni to get involved with current students, and it allows the alumni association to serve as a resource for Marquette students, alumni and faculty through career and professional development. He also said that the success of the program generated national attention among other institutions.

As for drawbacks of the program, DeWeerdt said that student interest has been overwhelming, exceeding the number of mentors available. Additionally, Druck said some mentors are from out-of-state, making connecting with them difficult. However, Adam Bissonnette, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, considers the program a positive experience.

“It’s a really great program and I hope it continues to grow,” Bissonnette said. “It helped me to decide the direction I wanted to take with my future. I’m glad I have a mentor to help me make decisions like what job to take and where to go to graduate school.”

To apply, prospective mentees must fill out basic information and answer a series of questions about what they hope to get out of the program, why they chose to apply and their preference for a mentor’s profession.

“This program shows that Marquette is something more than yourself,” Druck said. “It is also here for the posterity and the development of young adults. Working with mentors who care for the future and more than just themselves is really powerful.”

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