FORGE Mentorship Program Drawing Students In
Stephen F. Austin students at the Wesley Foundation are leading new students toward personal and academic success.
Now that Matt Cecil is on the verge of graduation from Stephen F. Austin University, he has wisdom and experiences to share with incoming students to aid in their success through the FORGE Mentorship Program offered through the Wesley Foundation. “Over the past two years, I have been mentoring two freshmen,” he shares, “and it has been a wonderful experience. The FORGE program has helped me become a better listener and teacher for my two mentees and all future mentor relationships.”
According to Rev. Tom Teekell, college pastor at SFA Wesley Foundation, FORGE is a mentorship program intended to meet incoming students where they are in their personal and spiritual journeys. Notes Tom, “With the help of the mentor, the mentee decides what they need most from the program. If they need accountability to study, help managing anger, or encouragement to prayer regularly, that’s what we help provide -- in a Christian context. It’s not just another ‘big brother’ or ‘big sister’ program you might find in a fraternity or sorority. The purpose of FORGE is to help lead freshmen and sophomores toward personal, spiritual, and emotional maturity. By developing intentional, meaningful mentor-relationships, older students can encourage younger students toward wise and biblical decision-making in all areas of their lives.” Adds Tom, “When a student reaches their junior year, they become eligible to be a mentor to an incoming freshman or sophomore, and the cycle starts again.”
Intentional thought is given to the pairing process. Leaders created a speed-dating type process called speed-friending where students can meet a number of other students in a short, focused time. “Mentors list 3-5 names of students they clicked with and the students do the same, and we match them accordingly,” adds Tom. Accountability is boosted through a signed covenant between the mentor and mentee, and a reminder that the mentor is not a licensed counselor but rather a peer who has a bit more wisdom that comes through age and life experience. “We believe by investing in these students,” adds Tom, “that they are more likely to stay around and plugged in.”