Mentorship program enhances multicultural undergraduates’ experience

Beyond the Horizons co-founders, from left: Ajiri Uzere, Doreen Gustave, Grey Peoples, and Tikiyah Ivey. Photo: Jenny Hudak/University of Miami
By Ashley A. Williams

Beyond the Horizons co-founders, from left: Ajiri Uzere, Doreen Gustave, Grey Peoples, and Tikiyah Ivey. Photo: Jenny Hudak/University of Miami

Mentorship program enhances multicultural undergraduates’ experience

By Ashley A. Williams
Beyond the Horizons offers incoming students a mentor for one year to help them learn all about the University’s resources, while providing a deep dive into the multicultural scene on campus.

Beyond the Horizons is a new mentoring program at the University of Miami that aims to enhance the overall experience of incoming multicultural first-year and transfer students at the University. Sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs (MSA), the program offers students a one-on-one mentor to serve as a both a resource and a friend. 

The mentorship is a step beyond the pre-orientation program. Upon enrolling into the University, students of color are invited to attend a Horizons preview of campus life. MSA wanted to take this a step further with Beyond the Horizons, a unique program that assists students in finding involvement opportunities and fosters a sense of community and belonging by bringing together diverse students through intentional planning of group and individual activities.

Beyond the Horizons co-founders, students Doreen Gustave, Ajiri Uzere, Tikiyah Ivey, and Grey Peoples, were each hand-selected by Christopher Clarke, MSA director, and Kennedy Robinson, assistant director. 

“Everyone would always say, ‘Horizons was great, but what’s next?’ ” said Gustave, a senior studying public health with a minor in psychology. “Our program pairs students with other students who have been at UM for at least two years. Their mentor basically guides them according to their interests.” 

Clarke said thus far, many of the mentees in the program have expressed their gratitude for having a designated person to show them around the university. Even during a time when in-person events are limited, mentors and mentees find ways to spend time together by attending virtual events offered by student organizations and campus departments.

“We are confident that these touchpoints will enhance their co-curricular experiences and assist with the cultivation of new diverse leaders,” said Clarke.

To best serve the mentees, Gustave, Uzere, Ivey, and Peoples used a questionnaire to best match them to a mentor.

“What we tried to do is group them based on their major first, then next their personality traits,” said Gustave. “We tried to pair them with people who we felt would be able to guide them academically but also socially.”

Uzere, a junior majoring in political science and psychology, said what sets Beyond the Horizons apart from many other mentorship programs offered on campus is that it encourages its mentees to deeply explore all that the University of Miami has to offer. Participants are highly encouraged to attend at least one university event per month.

“We put an emphasis on social development as well a leadership development in our program,” said Uzere. “We intentionally host one meeting a month to make sure there is a balance. We want students to focus on their academics while also allowing underclassmen to grow in specific areas.”

Peoples, a finance major in the Miami Herbert Business School, said Beyond the Horizons is the first and currently the only mentorship program that centers around minority students. Ivey, a junior public relations and media management double major, said it’s the program’s laid back ideals that make it unique and great for busy students who are still looking to learn all there is about the multicultural student experience at the University of Miami.

“We’re realistic in the sense that we’re not going to baby college students—we encourage them to do things and it’s a lot of accountability and responsibility on their own part to be leaders and to grow as an individual,” said Ivey.

The Beyond the Horizons team hosted their first event of the year last month. On March 12, “Networking with Black Alumni and WWMA (Woodson-Williams-Marshall Association),” a virtual event, will allow students of color to speak directly to multicultural graduates and current faculty and staff members about their professions and navigating the workforce. Register here.