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Mentoring helps students transition into nursing school, sparks friendship

Third-semester students Susana Mansilla and Melissa Sapon
Pictured (L-R): Susana Mansilla and Melissa Sapon

Starting nursing school can be exciting, but many students worry about the challenges that lie ahead of them. The mentorship program organized by the Student Government Organization helps entering JI students transition into nursing school.

Susana Mansilla, third-semester student, got confused and struggled when she first started at Cizik School of Nursing at UTHealth Houston and wished she had a mentor to guide her. Since she knows what it is like to be a new student on campus, she decided to help out incoming students like her J1 mentee, Melissa Sapon.

Susana has been helping Melissa to get set up in the school by passing down text books, guiding her through courses, giving advice, and sharing her experiences and perceptions of nursing.

“Mentors are kind of like cheerleaders for new students. They motivate students to put their best foot forward and push through difficult experiences and coursework,” said Elnora Awatt, leader of the Fall 2022 mentorship program.

“Having a mentor has been an excellent opportunity for my first semester. I was lost and Susana helped me a lot. She helped me plan my schedule and courses,” Melissa said. “We supported and encouraged each other, and we became good friends.”

Being a mentor benefits students in many ways.

“Through the program, mentors sharpen their communication skills and learn how to support other students, which is important in the field of nursing,” Elnora said. “Additionally, the program helps students develop networking and time-management skills.”

At a minimum, mentors and mentees are expected to connect once a month, though they are welcome and encouraged to interact more frequently. Since Melissa and Susana live close to each other, they have been meeting often and studying together.

Melissa is also planning to become a mentor in the spring semester and help JI students as she has been helped.

Third-semester students Megan Scarcella and Gabriela Careaga will serve as co-leaders of the Spring 2023 mentorship program.

Merve Erten

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