UD students inspire through MD Mentoring Program

Eddie Jin

“It was nearing the end of the trimester, and a few kids were struggling with school. We sat them down one-on-one and made sure they were doing okay,” Sajan Mehrotra (11) said. Mehrotra is one of the Upper Division mentors for the Middle Division Mentoring program.

For the past nearly 20 years, Upper Division students of the Middle Division Mentoring program have advised their younger peers in their homerooms. The program’s mentors, headed by Guidance Counselor Wendy Reiter, meet with their advisees every other week during break to provide company and mentorship.

The program has existed since the beginning of the Middle Division at the school, and aims to deepen links between the Middle and Upper Division.

“The mentoring program is designed to have UD students be part of the lives of middle school students in an older sibling sense,” Reiter said.

Sometimes students will find it easier to talk to a role model who is only a few years older than they are, and who they feel may understand them better, Reiter said.

“It’s really cool that the relationship doesn’t end at the end of the school year as the mentor is around for the next couple of years,” Beatrix Bondor (12), a student-leader of the program, said.

“We meet one-on-one and discuss how school is going,” John Hiller (8) said.

A large part of the mentor-mentee relationship is about academics, Aryan Palla (8) said.

The mentor is someone who has been through the academic process before, and is also able to form a close bond with their mentees, Bondor said.

“We want the mentor to be somewhere between a teacher and a friend,” Bondor said.

“It’s rewarding to see when my mentee understands concepts,” Upper Division mentor Ben Wang (10) said.

Interactions with mentees include a lot of talking and activities, Wang said.

“My mentor always asks me about how my life is and how things are going,” Vincent Li (8) said.

The goal is to forge a bond between a UD and MD student, and to create a go-to person in the MD student’s life, Reiter said.

“When my mentees need help, either they reach out to me or I’ll approach them to resolve their problems,” Wang said.

Upper Division mentors also work to provide an environment in which students will feel socially comfortable, Wang said.

“At Dorr a couple of my mentees were really shy and quiet, so I’ve talked to them, even embarrassing myself to show vulnerability is okay, and they’re a lot more comfortable with each other now,” Wang said.

Talking with mentors is easier because it’s less school-related, Hiller said.

Hiller fondly remembers an icebreaker game within his homeroom as a moment of bonding with his peers, Hiller said.

Mentor Madison Li (10) claims the bus ride to the Middle Division Dorr Orientation is an integral moment for the students to bond, Li said.

Helping older students engage with new students “set the tone for our homeroom dynamic,” Li said.

A new addition to the program this year is the Study Buddies initiative, in which mentors volunteer their I period on Monday and Thursday for Middle Division students to stop by for academic support.

In the long term, the program hopes to continue to have mentors facilitate a passion for mentoring and derive satisfaction in their relationships with MD students, Reiter said.