The Texas Tech First Generation Transition and Mentoring Program creates an opportunity for first-generation students to receive support as a mentee and to mentor other students starting their college journey.
Ashira Budd, junior kinesiology major from San Antonio, is a mentor for the program and was a mentee.
The program helped Budd network and make more friends throughout college, she said.
In the beginning, Budd was more reserved and not quick to open up to others, she said. Budd has learned to be a more effective speaker and leader throughout her time in the program.
“As a mentor now, I know that some mentees are students who might be nervous or out of place,” Budd said. “I now have an idea of what students are going through and how to help them.”
Budd has felt a lot of support from the first-generation committee that has contributed to her growth as a person, she said.
“As a student, first-gen has shaped me to be a more open-minded person,” Budd said. “Taking the skills that I’ve gained from being a mentee has helped me to meet students where they are at individually.”
Brandon Cruz, director of First Generation Transition and Mentoring Program, oversees the program’s mentors by training them and hosting weekly meetings with them.
The program is under the Tech Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Cruz said. FGTMP has been around for many years and has had been known by many different names. Last year the program was known as Pegasus.
Cruz wants to connect first-generation students to resources and give them many different networking opportunities, he said. The program provides the students with upper-level mentors to help them navigate their college experience. The students are then able to build relationships with each other through various social engagements.
Student mentors offer the students a support system whether it be helping them deal with the stress from exams or providing leadership to students, Cruz said.
Mentors have about 20 to 30 undergrad students, Cruz said. There are about 230 first-generation students in the program. Students can join at any time throughout the year by signing up online the First Generation Transition and Mentoring Programs website.
The goal of the mentorship program is to have mentees eventually become a mentor, Cruz said. The transition can allow students to learn and absorb, and then give back to the next group of mentees.
The program is working on expanding its resources in order to meet a diverse set of student needs, Cruz said. The goal is to make the program critical to a diverse body of students while making it accessible and easy to track.
“Texas Tech University is proud to serve nearly 25 percent first-gen students, and I am honored and privileged to create a program to specifically support them,” Cruz said. “As part of this effort, we want to celebrate, educate and empower first-gen students, so join us April 24, 2020 for the I’m First Gen Summit.”
More information about the summit, which will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Student Union Building and the McKenzie-Merket Alumni Center, one can visit the FGTMP website.
Lok Ng, junior finance major from Abilene, said he is also a mentor who was a mentee for the program. The program helped him find many resources Tech offers and allowed him to feel like he belonged at Tech.
“I appreciate the program because of the availability of resources through events like study sessions and guest speakers,” Ng said, “also, the connections between first-gen mentees and mentors.”
Being a previous mentee, Ng said he knows how it feels to be lost. He is able to draw from his past experiences to help his current mentees. When a student asks him a question, he does his best to find the answer, as he knows how much help he can offer the mentees.
The program has also helped Ng to be a better family member, as he is able to better lead his younger siblings, he said.
“I don’t think I would be able to be a mentor without having the experience of being a mentee,” Ng said.