Navigating a new school can be a daunting task for any student, especially those beginning college. For first-year students, the process of locating university resources, classrooms and even the cafeteria can be difficult without assistance.
The Office of First-Year Experience at Texas A&M University-San Antonio is launching the Peers Assisting with Success program (PAWS) Feb. 20 and Feb. 22 to help all students adapt to their new environment in a meaningful way.
PAWS serves as a mentoring program that pairs students with mentors, faculty and staff for a 7-week course designed around specific student interests.
Kat Whitaker, University 101 programs coordinator, said the school surveyed students in Jaguar Tracks classes and asked, “What groups would you be interested in?”
The students selected two groups for this semester. The first is PAWS for First-Generation, which is first-year, first-generation students who are the first in their families to attend college. PAWS helps these students develop relationships with peers, faculty and staff, and helps them find other first-gen students who can guide them through their unique situations.
Students selected PAWS for Career Exploration as their second choice; the group’s intention is to help them learn what they need to achieve success in their careers as well as essential leadership skills.
Whitaker said there is a student mentor assigned to each PAWS group and the program will offer a variety of workshops, led by faculty and staff mentors, specifically tailored for each group’s interests.
“I think it’s a really great opportunity that students should take advantage of,” Whitaker said.
First-Year Experience attempted to launch PAWS in Fall of 2017, but they were not able to generate enough interest in the program at that time, Whitaker said.
But Jasmyne Thomas, psychology senior and writing tutor, said mentoring is something other departments on campus have expressed interest in for years.
Thomas said she has been advocating for a program like PAWS to address student issues that extend beyond just academics.
“My training is in helping [students] in the writing process,” Thomas said. “So I wouldn’t have necessarily the same skills as helping a student that’s having issues with say financial aid or having issues with registration.”
Whitaker said the PAWS program offers students guidance and support that is highly personalized, and hopes to eventually offer one-on-one mentoring as the program grows.
The Office of First-Year Experience offers other programs to students such as Jaguar Tracks, JagX and the President’s Leadership Class. Their programs are all designed to help students connect to the university, as well as their fellow students to ensure they get the most of their college experience.
To learn more about the meetings students can find information on Jagsync, the student activites portal:
2 p.m. Feb. 20 PAWS for First-Generation: https://orgsync.com/130375/events/2197708/occurrences/5236317
2 p.m. Feb. 22 PAWS for Career Exploration: https://orgsync.com/130375/events/2197712/occurrences/5236329
For more information on participating in the PAWS program or for additional information on any of the First-Year Experience programs, visit the First-Year Experience page.