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Mentors being recruited for Asian American sophomores

STANFORD -- Asian American faculty, staff and alumni are sought to take part in the second year of an "interactive mentorship" program for incoming Asian American sophomores.

The AIM program, sponsored by the advisory board of the Asian American Activities Center, last year successfully matched 45 sophomores with faculty and staff. This year, there are 120 student applicants, but only about 35 prospective mentors, said coordinator Anne Wong, residence office coordinator at Lagunita.

There will be an informational meeting on the AIM program, from noon to 1 p.m. Monday, Oct. 2, at the Asian American Activities Center offices in the Old Union.

In addition, the Asian American Activities Center has sent a letter to local Asian American alumni, asking for their help.

The mentor-mentee relationship "can be very symbiotic," Wong said. "It's not like academic counseling," she said. "We try to talk more with the students about cultural issues, about life issues. And we try not to act like surrogate parents -- it's more of an aunt or uncle kind of relationship."

The AIM mentors are asked to meet about once a week with their mentees during the academic year. In addition, the entire group gathers for a dinner at least once during the year.

The program is designed for second-year students because of the "sophomore slump" phenomenon.

"Some of them really feel like they're in a void their sophomore year," said Wong, a 1994 graduate in human biology.

Faculty and staff from all areas of the university are encouraged to join, Wong said. Students and mentors are matched by their expressed interests and preferences. In many cases, the students prefer to be matched with a mentor who is of a particular generation, or who is a first- or second-generation American.

"Sometimes, that's important to a student," said Elise Maar, a second-year mentor and assistant director of undergraduate admissions. Last year, she worked with a student whose parents were immigrants; Maar's parents came to the United States from Taiwan.

"Someone like her right now is going through a lot of the same things I was going through in college," Maar said.

When she was an undergraduate at the University of Virginia, Maar said, "There were virtually no other Asian American faces around. To have seen faculty and staff who looked like me would have helped, I think.

"There are lots of Asian American undergraduates here (at Stanford), but we're still underrepresented on the faculty and staff," Maar said. "For a student, to have contact with someone like yourself who is on the faculty or in a high-level staff position, may make you think, 'Yes, I could be a professor,' or choose a career path you might not have considered before."

Maar strongly recommends that her Asian American colleagues on campus become mentors.

"It's important for people to realize that students need many different kinds of support to succeed at this university," Maar said. "They can get things from you that they can't get from their academic advisers" through mentoring.

Also, she said, 'It's a great way to stay connected with the students. There are a lot of people who just don't have a lot of contact with the students, and they're really missing something."

Dr. Anson Lowe, assistant professor of medicine, said he is involved with the AIM program "because I see it not only as a service obligation to the university, but as a service to myself. Working at the Medical School, this is a great opportunity for me to stay in touch with undergraduates."

However, Lowe said, he usually prefers not to be "matched" with pre-medical students.

"I talk about medicine all the time at work, and I advise medical students, so with the undergraduate students, I would rather talk about other things," he said.

People wanting more information can attend the Oct. 2 informational meeting and/or contact Wong at 723-4209 or send e-mail to nikeairs@leland.



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