With the Spring 2012 semester in the books and final grades recorded, the Peer Outreach Mentoring Program (POMP) at UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management concluded its second consecutive term with overwhelming success. The Program, which helps at-risk, probationary and readmitted students improve their grades through peer mentors, saw an average increase of 1.76 in the recent term GPA of the 18 mentees who attended at least one POMP meeting. The average increase is up from 1.41 in the fall, which had nearly half of its current membership, with 11 mentees.

According to POMP’s director, academic services coordinator Vanessa Cogswell, “at its core, the success of the Program is rooted in the relationships of the mentors and mentees. Students have an easier time applying the advice of their peers, as opposed to a professor, parent or an advisor, because they have taken the same classes and/or faced similar challenges, and can therefore better relate to their common experiences.”

Through the Program’s bi-weekly meetings, hosted during the fall & spring semesters, struggling students can interact with their peer mentors to discuss different academic and social topics, such as test-taking strategies and stress management tips.

Mentors must not only meet the minimum academic standards of a 3.0 cumulative GPA or better, but must also successfully interview with Cogswell to ensure advising capabilities.  Cogswell is also planning to implement “training” modules for the Fall 2012 term to add more substance to the Program’s orientation session.

“POMP is a support system for students who need a little extra encouragement, direction or advice,” said Cogswell. “Our peer mentors must not only be able to help their mentees academically, but must also be able to empathize with them. That balance offers the support that our members need to succeed.”

In its brief two-term history, POMP has helped remove more than half of its total membership from academic probation, and recently helped 10 mentees to finish the spring semester with a 3.0 term GPA or better.

“The Program has been so successful that Dean Pizam wants to help recognize POMP’s accomplishments with a ceremony and certificates,” said Cogswell. “He would also like to honor a Mentor of the Year with an award presented to the winner at the ceremony.”

In addition to the acknowledgement from the Dean of UCF’s Rosen College, the Program’s success was also recognized by the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA).

“I submitted a proposal to NACADA about POMP to present at their National Conference in Nashville, TN this October,” said Cogswell. “My proposal, titled Peer Outreach Mentoring Program – Building Empowerment through a Coaching Framework in the Era of the ‘Millennial Student’, was accepted out of thousands of proposals from advisors employed by colleges & universities across the nation.”

This summer, Cogswell will meet with members to discuss the future plans of POMP, including ways to help the Program become a funded organization or association.

POMP will resume its regular bi-weekly meeting at the beginning of the Fall 2012 term.

Students, who wish to enroll in the Program as a mentee or mentor, should contact Vanessa Cogswell at [email protected].