About the EXCEL Mentor Program

EXcellence in Cultural and Education Leadership 

The Center for Diversity & Inclusion EXCEL Mentor Program is designed to increase underrepresented student involvement and success by promoting community building, academic excellence, cultural engagement and spiritual exploration. Interested students will be matched with an upper-class mentor for their first two semesters at Aquinas.  Research shows, personalizing a campus encourages students from underrepresented backgrounds to feel more connected to the community (Cantor & James, 1999). 

Actively participating in a mentor program increases the likelihood of persistence and graduation. Incoming students, and their families, invest in participation because they recognize the value of connecting with a support person that can relate to their background and experiences, as well as offer perspective on navigating the first year.

*Canton, M.E, & James, D.P.(1999). Mentoring in Higher Education: Best Practices. Los Gatos, California: Robertson Publishing. 

Program Impact
Many of our mentors have benefited greatly from a one-to-one support connection in their own first-year transition. For that reason, our EXCEL Program mentors are committed to making a difference in the lives and successes of new students. Having a trained peer mentor, and program staff who are intentionally focused on supporting your needs as an incoming student of color, can mean the difference between a good college experience and a great one.
Benefits of having a Peer Mentor
There are many benefits to having a person "on your team" as you navigate your first year at Aquinas. Apart from offering academic advice, a mentor can help you:

  • Connect with resources that will make your college transition smoother.
  • Meet others with similar interests, backgrounds, and experiences.
  • Get familiar with your college campus more easily.
  • Overcome challenges and offer encouragement.
  • Identify clubs and activities on campus that will help you hone your leadership skills.
  • Learn to advocate for yourself throughout college.
  • Find opportunities to get involved in the Greater Grand Rapids community.

EXCEL Mentee Commitments

  • Believe in yourself! We recognize your potential and want to help you achieve success.
  • Commit to actively participating for two semesters.
  • Keep open communication. Your mentor will be contacting you throughout both semesters to schedule one-on-one meetings. Make sure you are an engaged participant.
  • Speak up when you are feeling overwhelmed. If you are struggling, be honest with yourself and your mentor in order to confront obstacles and get back on a positive track.
  • Be present for the program's Fall social/kick-off (August) and the end of the year gathering (April).
  • Attend two events each semester that support academic, social, spiritual or cultural enrichment.
  • Have fun! Our EXCEL Mentor Program is a great way to expand your relationships and get better acquainted with campus resources.