History of the Peer Mentor Program
The peer mentor program has always been student-driven. The program began in the spring of 2001, and it was an effort on the part of Patty Hsue, ’02 to create a more welcoming and supportive campus climate. As an Chinese American student, Patty struggled during her first years at Reed. She felt that any student's transition to Reed was difficult at times, but the challenges were heightened by being from a different cultural background than the majority of students.
“After a semester at Reed, with many ups and downs, I still felt incredibly different from people. Many of the cultural references people would make would zoom right over my head. Reed is an incredibly academically rigorous and challenging school, and with all the time spent studying, it is really easy to feel alone and isolated. I wanted to meet other under-represented students at Reed, people who could share my experiences and understand where I was coming from.” [Patty Hsue, '02]
By her junior year, Patty had become more comfortable at Reed and had established her own networks of support. Patty approached staff in Student Services with a proposal for the peer mentor program. She explained, “Finding my niche, or my place, at Reed empowered me to try and change the social network here. I wanted to create a network of students that would act to quickly connect incoming students with upper-class students who could support them. I also wanted to help incoming racially under-represented and first-generation college students connect with each other.”
The peer mentor program now is a firmly established part of the Reed community. Over 400 students have participated in the program since it's creation. It has expanded to include a four-day Pre-Orientation Program prior to general new student orientation and is well recognized on campus as a resource for leadership development and student success. Each new mentor who dedicates their time and energy to support incoming students helps to carry on Patty Hsue's incredible legacy.