E-mentor program promotes intercultural relationships and learning

The life of an engineering student includes endless studying, projects, homework and the hunt for internships—all adding up to a busy schedule and little time for socializing. The Engineering Mentors, or E-Mentors, program bridges the gap between succeeding in classes and expanding a social network.

E-Mentors pairs two graduate student mentors with two to four undergraduate mentees. The initiative encourages intercultural networking by grouping domestic graduate students with international undergraduates and vice versa.

Yuqi Song is a junior transfer student who is experiencing the benefits of the program firsthand. Paired up with graduate mentor Aaron Bertram, Song has been introduced to a whole new culture, which has included Mountain Dew and disc golf.

“I think it gives me a very good opportunity to get involved in American social life,” she said. Not only has Song made friends in her mentor group, she’s also benefited academically in the short time they’ve been working together.

“I learned some important information from my mentors. It can help me to seize some unexpected opportunity, which is what I’m waiting for,” she explains. “If I meet some problem in the future, I think I will ask them for help.”

Like Song, Jacob Yost is another student mentee who has been able to grow academically and culturally in the E-Mentor program. “I get to see different perspectives and receive help about college, as well as meet new people and learn about new cultures,” said Yost, a freshman in engineering.

As communication is an ever-expanding part of engineering, students are encouraged more and more to work in teams and develop relationships with their peers. That’s why learning about and understanding cultural differences has been a large focus of the mentor program.

“I lived in a town where most people ‘looked like me,’” Yost said, “so it was a change having to learn new things. I tend to try and approach other people to see how we can work together.”

The small mentor groups meet throughout the year to socialize and discuss relevant academic topics, but the program also hosts larger events. Sponsored football tailgates, pizza parties and a Virtual Reality Applications Center demonstration have been held in the past to encourage members to meet other mentors and mentees.