Residence academic mentors (ac-mens) are upper-year students who offer academic support and mentorship to other students. This includes organizing study sessions, faculty and student presentations called Salons, and other events, as well as answering questions about and offering guidance on the University’s academic services and supports. Each Mount Allison residence has at least one academic mentor as part of their residence staff.
Howlett is a philosophy, politics, and economics (PPE) student from Dartmouth, NS. She is one of two academic mentors in the northside residence, Harper Hall (approximately 180 residents) and applied to be a mentor to help others and to be involved in her house’s leadership team. She says it’s important for first-year students to have this additional link for academic questions.
“A lot of the questions we receive are about accessing different services on campus,” she says. “Things like how to use Moodle, how to access the Writing Centre, or just how to approach your professor. These resources might not be evident to all students, especially those just starting university.”
Sheinin, a second-year Science student from Toronto, is the academic mentor in Edwards House (approximately 60 residents). He was looking to get involved in house leadership in his second year in residence and thought this role was a good way to do that.
“I organized a Salon event earlier this semester with Chelsea Gardner in Classics,” he says. “She came to Edwards and gave a presentation and discussion on her research. It’s really interesting to hear from your professors and others on campus in such a different format from class.”
Howlett and Sheinin both say the role has been helpful to them as well.
“You learn a lot about skills like event planning and communication,” says Sheinin. “Sometimes getting people to come out to an event is harder than the planning.”
“When some students see the notices for extra sessions, a lot of them think, ‘I don’t have time to do that with all my school work,’” she says. “Academic mentors are there to give that extra support and information to help with school work and the adjustment many students go through in their first year and beyond.”
Outside of the mentorship role, Howlett and Sheinin both work as teacher’s assistants, Howlett in calculus, Sheinin in biochemistry and chemistry.
Howlett also sits on the Change Your Mind executive, helping to organize the popular Elephant in the Room Series on campus, aimed at opening up the discussion around mental health.
Sheinin plays violin in the University’s Chamber Orchestra, made up of students from all disciplines as well as local community members.
Find out more about the Residence Academic Mentor program at Mount Allison: https://www.mta.ca/Community/Student_services/Student_Life_Office/Residence_life/Residence_academic_mentor/Residence_academic_mentor/
Photo captions: Rebecca Howlett and Jonah Sheinin