Atkinson’s STARS gather to celebrate mentorship success

 Rhonda Lenton

Above: Atkinson Dean Rhonda Lenton welcomes STARS mentors and students to Wednesday’s gathering, the third since the innovative mentorship program was launched

The Atkinson Student and Alumni Relations Unit (STARS) celebrated its innovative mentorship program at a meet ‘n’ greet event with a twist Wednesday. More than 160 students and industry professionals, who are also Atkinson alumni, gathered together to share experiences of the world of work and study.

Atkinson STARS eventNow in its third year, the Atkinson Student-Alumni Mentorship Program is growing in leaps and bounds, more than doubling the number of pair-matches this year to 85, up from 40 in its first year.

Right: Volunteer mentor chats with Atkinson students

“STARS is an exciting new unit that aims to foster community development, community involvement and community celebration, and it accomplished all of these goals with this mentorship program,” said Rhonda Lenton, dean of the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies.

In addition to facilitating individual matches, the program also matches Atkinson alumni with student clubs and associations in order to help facilitate support and guidance to students as they explore career and post-graduation options.

To keep things rolling smoothly, students and their mentors took part in an icebreaker exercise to help the pairs connect over dinner. Prizes from the Atkinson Student Association kept the excitement level high. “I am a first-time mentor and I really enjoyed finding out how much my mentee and I had in common,” said Franz Branschat, who also works at Atkinson and coordinated the program this year as part of the STARS team.

This year saw another first for the program: a mentor to mentor the mentors. Susan Atkinson (no relation to the Faculty namesake) has been part of the program as a mentor from its inception. She has now volunteered to help guide the mentors, much in the same way the mentors guide their mentees.

Carole Umana hands out prizes

Left: Carole Umaña gives out prizes during ice breaker event

“The program has really been fabulous”, said Atkinson. “I’ve had a very wide experience as an entrepreneur and professional and I’ve always volunteered – I just love giving back.” With her wide-ranging career, she is eminently suited to mentor the leaders of tomorrow and is continuing to mentor a student as well as coaching other mentors.

“This year’s mentor recruitment campaign has been a great success but we are still looking for more graduates to get involved . There are lots of deserving upper year Atkinson students who could really use your mentorship,” said Carole Umaña, STARS director.

Atkinson graduates who would like to get involved in the STARS program can visit the Mentorship Web site or e-mail for more information.

This article was submitted to YFile by Timothy Hudson, communications manager, Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies.