A Helping Hand for new History Students

October 2019

The Department of History counts among its students a small corps of dedicated student mentors who, as participants in the First Year Connections (FYC) Program, help new students adjust to life on campus during those critical weeks in their first semester.

History student Sara Harvey knows just how valuable those connections can be. Sara was paired with a mentor when she first arrived at Carleton in 2017. Now, as a senior mentor in the FYC program, she shares some of her experiences and her keys to success with new students.


head shot of Sara Harvey in front of the leaves of a tree wearing a Carleton Ravens sweatshitMy experience as a participant in First Year Connections (FYC) program has taught me that the connections forged during the six-week program continue long after it ends. In those first six weeks, incoming students acquire skills and learn about the resources that will help them throughout their university experience.

I experienced this first-hand. My journey with the FYC program began in my first year, when I was paired with, Jenny, a mentor who really helped me with my transition into university. Like many other first-year students, this was my first time living away from home. Adjusting to a new city and a new environment brought a number of challenges.  It was really beneficial to be able to meet with my mentor once a week and to know that she could help answer my questions. It was also helpful to have a familiar face those first few weeks. Jenny was a History student, so she was also able to help guide me through my questions about the program and to connect me with professors and other key History department staff.

In my second year, I was a mentor to 5 fantastic mentees! Not all of them were in History, but we were still able to figure out answers to their questions and to find the resources specific to their programs and needs. For example, when one of my first mentees was nervous about writing their first university paper, I accompanied them to the Writing Services program at the Centre for Student Academic Support (CSAS). In this way, I was able to connect with first-year students and to help them navigate their first few weeks on campus and to answer their questions or concerns.  As a mentor, I was able to give back to the program that had helped me so much in my first year.

I remain very involved in the mentorship program. I am currently a senior mentor and, in that role, I help mentor new peer mentors.  That is, I work with a group of peer-mentors to help them answer any questions they might have, while also working one-on-one with my own mentees.  I am able to draw on my experience in the program and to think critically, problem solve, and learn about more resources to help both my mentors and my mentees.  Being able to help mentors was another great way for me to connect with more people and develop my mentorship skills.

Overall, my experience with the mentorship program has been fantastic.  I’ve been able to meet so many new people and learn so much about the amazing resources that Carleton offers its students.  It was so nice to have someone to look to during such a big transition, and it has been an honour to be able to give back by serving as a mentor in the program.  My mentorship experiences have allowed me to forge a greater connection to the Carleton community and campus. I cannot recommend the mentorship program enough.