As part of the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) strategic plan, the College launched COMPASS (CAFNR’s Opportunity for Minorities: Promoting and Achieving Student Success), a peer-mentoring group to promote academic success, persistence and successful graduation of participating students, during the Fall 2020 semester.
The program runs for eight weeks during the beginning of each fall semester, with a three-to-five-hour weekly commitment for the student participants. This past semester, the entire program was done virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The focus of the program is to help incoming underrepresented minority students build a network with existing underrepresented minority students to learn more about academics, social life and off-campus resources,” said Samniqueka Halsey, CAFNR’s Faculty Fellow for Inclusivity, Diversity and Equity and assistant professor in the School of Natural Resources.
COMPASS offers underrepresented students in CAFNR various opportunities, through activities, workshops and presentations, as well as the chance to connect with other underrepresented students.
The hope is that mentees in the program build self-esteem and enhance their self-motivation, self-discipline and goal setting.
“Transitioning to life at Mizzou can be confusing and challenging for many students,” Halsey said. “We aim to provide mentees with the support they may need to adjust to life within CAFNR and MU. By engaging in meaningful interactions with a positive mentor, you can sustain your motivation and increase your academic performance.”
Mentors in the program develop leadership skills and community-building skills.
“Mentoring consists of focused and selected activities that seek to enhance and enrich students’ opportunities to persist at Mizzou, to be academically successful and career ready upon graduation,” Halsey said. “As a mentor, we will pair you with incoming students, giving you the opportunity to listen, understand and encourage students to use all resources available to achieve academic success. You will function as coaches, friends and, most of all, as positive role models.”
Students who are interested in becoming mentors can reach out to Halsey by emailing her (email@example.com). Halsey said she will then gather a little more information about the student and match them with a mentee.