New mentor program takes tutoring to a new level

Gannon University students take tutoring to a whole new  level as they broaden the horizons of local high school students through a new mentoring program.

The program, Gaining Options for College, or GO College!, has made a difference in the lives of high school and Gannon students alike as they forge bonds that last beyond their time in the classroom.

Amy James, adviser and new program coordinator, said the mentoring program began in 2008 as a College Access program called Gannon University Mentoring Program, which utilized Gannon students as mentors at Strong Vincent.

In 2011, the grant expanded and the program was given the new name GO College! and also spread to East and Central Tech high schools.

Freshmen and sophomores in GO College! meet with Gannon mentors weekly to discuss study skills, communication skills and time management.

Juniors and seniors meet monthly, while they prepare for college entrance exams, such as the ACT and SAT, college applications and learn about scholarship opportunities.

Gannon mentors not only work with school issues, but also personal ones.

James mentioned that because they work with a smaller population of students within the high school, they are able to spend more time with individuals.

“I simply view my role as a “companion,” Rebecca Iscrupe, a fifth-year occupational therapy major said.

“I, along with all of the other mentors, are there of course to help them academically and with future college plans, but most importantly we are there to listen, answer questions, or to simply laugh together.”

Iscrupe said she enjoys every second of being a mentor and her passion for children has grown because of it.

“The students in return have made such a difference in my life as well as reminding me to continue reaching for my dreams and to also have fun in the process,” Iscrupe said.

Each mentor from Gannon said they benefit from the program in different ways.

Menglong Cai, a junior finance major from Japan, said that his benefits are getting to work with American high school students.

He said it gives him more of an opportunity to learn the American culture and he can share his culture as well.

“Strong Vincent students and our staff are great.” Cai said. “We are working together as a big family.”

Will Giles, a senior sport and exercise science/pre-physical therapy major, also said he enjoys the opportunity to work with local students and help them take the next step in their education and to serve as a friendly role model.

“They know they can always stop by and see us and we’ll answer any questions they have,” he said.

Not only do the mentors gain a relationship with the students, they said they also keep in contact with them after they graduate high school.

Iscrupe also said that she has made a Facebook chat to keep in touch with some of the students as they go off to college.

So do the high school students really benefit from this program?

“I speak for all the Gannon students working as mentors when I say that it is truly rewarding to see a student improve his/her grades, calm his/her behavior, or receive an acceptance letter to his/her first choice college or university,” James said.

Giles also said that his proudest moments come in the spring when he returns to the mentoring program, as he is on the football team and unable to work with the students during the team’s fall season.

“I like to see when they start getting their acceptance letters back from the schools they applied to,” he said.

There isn’t just all work and no play in the Go College! program. Students also go on educational trips, college visits and run their high school store.

One of the trips Giles said the senior students took was to Washington, D.C.

Though it wasn’t a trip to visit colleges or attend open houses, Giles said it was nice to be able to take them somewhere different to sightsee and learn about monuments and government buildings.

“A lot of these kids don’t get out of Erie often, so taking them on these trips gives them more perspective,” he said.

Iscrupe said she is proud of the improvements she has seen the students in the program make.

“The students in our program become, for the most part, the best of the best in the school,” she said. “They are wonderful role models to their peers within the school and have been a perfect example of how successful our program is.”



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