In the winter of her junior year, school officials asked Hsue to attend
a national conference that addressed strategies to increase minority enrollment at small liberal
arts colleges. The trip brought diversity to the forefront of people’s minds and created
the conditions in which enduring change was possible. Hsue was given the green light to set
her “grand scheme” in motion.
Peers providing support
In Reed’s peer mentor program a first-year student is
paired with a returning student (this year from African American, Asian, Caucasian,
Hispanic, Native American, and multiracial backgrounds).
The mentor provides personal social support throughout the
year in a relationship that is as unique as each set of students, and as rewarding
as they can make it.
|Peer mentor participants began their training during this fall’s orientation.
Organized activities for mentor program participants start
at fall orientation with a kick-off dinner and retreat. During the year students
can attend activities such as bowling and pizza dinners downtown, which act both
as study breaks and opportunities to meet other community members with whom they
can share their experiences, thoughts, and feelings. More formal group discussions
center on topics such as going home for the first time, talking to parents about
college, and what to expect sophomore year. These get-togethers form a basis for
increased knowledge of and comfort with campus resources and networks—allowing
students to focus more quickly and adeptly on their education, and on building their
lives and learning how to inhabit their adulthood.
As her peers girded for final exams, Hsue rushed to recruit student
mentors. And despite such inclement timing, 15 Reedies tore away from their studies and volunteered.
Since its inception in the fall of 2001, the peer mentor program has
paired returning students with incoming freshmen. Orientation week activities, social mixers,
and workshops are also meant to allay any alienation freshlings might feel.
Two years after creating the program, Hsue still expresses incredulity
at witnessing the institutionalization of her ideas.
Though she modestly underplays her role, insisting she “just happened
to be at the right place at the right time,” it’s clear she’s been bitten
by the activism bug. She currently works as a legal case assistant in preparation for law school
and has set her sights on education reform.
And as always, she continues to ask questions.
|Zoë Nguyen Mézin ’97 worked as a staff reporter
for the San Francisco Examiner before taking a hiatus to care for daughter Marie-Alexis,
16 months, and son Pierre, 3 months.