Equity, Inclusion and Diversity

Near-Peer Mentorship Program

Two students working together at a table in front of a whiteboard

The Heller Near-Peer Mentorship Program connects students at Heller with their peers, current students and recent alumni for academic, professional, personal and social support that is relevant to their needs and culturally competent. This program comprises participants that are in almost the same level of seniority with different levels of experiences at the Heller School. 

For diverse students from different parts of the world, as well as various socio-economic backgrounds and identities, peer mentors can help create an inclusive and positive learning experience that supports academic performance, overall wellbeing and the needs of a thriving community. 

Complete the Heller Near-Peer Mentor/Mentee Information form if you are interested in the mentorship program.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the goals of the program?

  • Promoting the inclusion of diverse identities, voices, and perspectives within the Heller community 
  • Providing students with guidance, insight, and support as they navigate their graduate student experience and their career and professional goals
  • Developing programs and opportunities to encourage the academic and career success of mentees at the Heller School
  • Fostering a sense of belongingness across the diverse members of Heller community 
  • Prioritizing physiological, mental and psychological wellbeing of individuals and the community as a whole. 
  • Bridging the possible gap of incoming students with faculty and school/community resources.  
  • Enhancing students’ awareness of the existing resources and support centers within and outside Heller.

What are the benefits of joining the program?

The mentorship program offers benefits for both mentees and mentors: 

Mentees will gain:

  • A more enriching and applied academic experience;
  • Career preparation, insight, information and connections;
  • Increased confidence in networking and relationship building;
  • Guidance navigating the Heller and Brandeis systems and supporting functions; and
  • Increased confidence and self esteem.

Mentors will:

  • Help the Heller School achieve its mission through assisting the next generation of leaders committed to advancing social justice;
  • Reconnect with the Heller School network through engagement with mentees and peers;
  • Acquire new insight and understanding on a variety of subjects through students learning the most cutting-edge information;
  • Grow leadership capacity by guiding students forward in their careers, discovering critical skills and areas for development, and providing advice — all key skills in any leader’s portfolio.

Who is eligible to be a mentor?

  • Current Heller Students (of all programs) and alumni who are interested and committed to providing peer to peer support. 

What are the program requirements?

  • Attending and actively participating in mentorship program orientation and meetings
  • Mentors and mentees attending at least one Heller School program together each semester
  • Meeting 1:1 each week with your mentor/mentee
  • Completing all program surveys and check-ins

How will mentors and mentees communicate?

  • In-person meetings according to the availability of both the mentor and the mentee. 
  • Remote meeting arrangements through Skype, Zoom or other platforms, if both parties feel safe to use it. 

What types of mentorship are available?

  • Academic support through sharing of experiences and resources.  
  • Support in finding practicums and internships.  
  • Channeling students to resources that support their academic achievement, mental health, and social wellbeing. 
  • Providing psychological and social support if the situations can be managed by the capacity of the mentor.

How will mentors be supported?

  • Training of trainers for volunteer mentors 
  • Continuous online resources 
  •  Regular check-in meetings to share experiences and learned lessons 

Please contact Associate Director of Academic Affairs, Marc Kiredjian (mkiredjian@brandeis.edu), with any questions.

How will mentors and mentees be matched?

  • The matching process of mentees with their mentors needs to be according to the relevance of the support they need. It will be important to match mentees with mentors who understand their context academically, psychologically and socially. That is why the creation of a matching survey becomes a vital factor. 
  • For an inclusive service that meets the needs of all students from different academic programs, background, and social identities, the diversity of mentors based on these factors is vital. 
  • Mentors/mentees can be matched on variables such as program of study, race, age, ethnicity, and career/professional goals.
  • Depending on the mentor/mentee applicants each semester, there may not be an immediate match.

What is the code of conduct?

  • Even though this mentorship scheme is a volunteer initiative, its success depends on the commitment and dedication of all parties.  
  • Take into account that the relationship between mentors and mentees is near-peer mentorship, hence mentors should be conscious of power-dynamics and always be recognizant that the mentees their peers in terms of academic and professional experience.  
  • In dealing with conflicts or any type of dispute, mentors should restrain themselves from dealing with the situation on their own. It is important to take a bystander position and channel the mentees to the resources that can help them in resolving the situation.
  • Always remember that mentors are mandated reporters of Title IX

Contact Information

Maria Madison, Associate Dean for Equity, Inclusion and Diversity

Office: Heller-Schneider 119

Phone: 781-736-3886

Email: mtm@brandeis.edu