February 5, 2014

Group Connects New Cornell Students With Mentors

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Nearly 400 Cornell students have signed up for CampusConnection, a student-led initiative that connects new students to upperclassmen mentors.

The program, which aims to ease the transition to Cornell connected over 260 participants in its first semester last fall, according to Zach Praiss ’16, co-founder of the initiative, who is also a Sun layout designer. As of Tuesday, more than 100 students had signed up this semester.

CampusConnection assists interested upperclassmen find mentees based on mutual academic interests. Upperclassmen choose new students to mentor after both parties complete a poll on the organization’s website, according to Praiss.

“Rather than us taking on the Herculean task of matching new students to upperclassmen, we allow upperclassmen to select their new student,” Praiss said. “We hope that by being able to handpick their new student, upperclassmen are eager to help their new student excel in their college experience.”

Praiss and Blake Barr ’16, who said their introduction to campus was eased by the guidance of upperclassmen, conceived the idea for the initiative during their freshman year, according to Barr.“We wanted to ensure that every new student at Cornell could connect to a like-minded upperclassman for guidance and advice.” — Blake Barr ’16

“Both Zach and I were incredibly fortunate to have upperclassmen help with our transition into Cornell as freshmen last year,” Barr said. “Through CampusConnection, we wanted to ensure that every new student at Cornell could connect to a like-minded upperclassman for guidance and advice like we did.”

For many freshmen, being mentored by upperclassmen has helped them explore campus and learn about resources available to them, according to Nabiha Keshwani ’17, who participated in the program last fall.

“I had an amazing experience. Cornell can seem extremely intimidating and big — especially as a freshman — so I was really grateful that an initiative like CampusConnection exists,” Keshwani, who is also a Sun contributor, said.

Keshwani said that the program provides a “perfect medium” to connect people that would probably not meet under other circumstances.

“I believe it truly strengthens our campus as a whole,” she said. As CampusConnection moves into its second semester, Praiss said he hopes to continue expanding the program and ultimately have it become a permanent fixture of Cornell’s new student orientation.

“We hope to continue increasing awareness and participation of the initiative,” Praiss said. “After the successful launch of our new website, we really feel we have a sustainable structure going forward and right now we want to make sure that every student has the opportunity to take part in this exciting initiative.”