A College Football Hall of Fame inductee visited campus last week to speak with staff about mentoring in local schools through the TeamMates Mentoring Program. The message from former University of Nebraska head coach Tom Osborne was one of encouragement – demonstrating the importance of being a stable, reliable and inspiring mentor in a student’s life. TeamMates is a one-to-one, school-based program that helps students increase school engagement, improve scholastic performance and build life skills.
While talking with staff, Osborne shared personal stories about his inspiration for starting the mentoring program and the difference the experience can have on the lives of youth.
Nebraska Wesleyan has numerous faculty and staff who serve as mentors, or “TeamMates,” for the program and see the benefit mentoring can have on student engagement, academic performance and life skills.
NWU students also have connections to TeamMates
Allison Nesbitt, a junior communication studies major at Nebraska Wesleyan, remembers her time as a mentee in the TeamMates program.
“One of the biggest benefits I received from the program was the comfort of having a mentor who I could talk to about ‘important’ topics and ask questions,” said Nesbitt. “I am the oldest sibling in my family, which meant that I didn't have an older sister to ask questions about school, boys, sports and more. Having a mentor allowed me to develop and create a connection I was missing."
Allison was a mentee in the program from fifth grade until her sophomore year of high school. During this time, she remembers the time with her mentor helping her destress during the school week. “One of my favorite memories with my mentor was in sixth grade when we decided to make a scrapbook. I had Susan, my mentor, run around the school with me to take pictures of my favorite places, poses and silly faces. She helped me learn how to print the pictures at the school, and we found a bunch of school supplies to make a DIY scrapbook. It was so much fun to have creative freedom and the help of someone who ultimately wanted the best for me!”
Mentors and mentees often form strong bonds during their weekly meetings. “My mentor moved away when I was going into my junior year of high school, which is something that I struggled with for a while because we had grown so close. However, we do try to keep in contact through Facebook.”
Allison is just one of the students who receives the TeamMates scholarship at NWU. The scholarship is available through the program to incoming students that have participated as a mentee for a minimum of three years.
"Having a mentor allowed me to develop and create a connection I was missing.”
Osborne’s visit sparked many memories for Allison, who wants to become a mentor herself. She advises that anyone interested in the program should simply show up and be there for their mentee. She said that many students just need someone to talk to about their struggles or concerns with school. Allison also encourages mentors to go the extra mile, “I also think it is important to find ways to be there for the student outside of the mentorship because it makes the student more of a friend to the mentor.”
Those who want to learn more about the TeamMates Mentoring Program, or to volunteer as a mentor, should visit their website.