The Student Government Association at Texas A&M University-San Antonio is implementing an internal mentorship program to raise standards and build better leaders.
The program will pair incoming student senators who are interested with former SGA members who previously held a senator title and share the same college. It will also feature one-on-one sessions, monthly sessions, advancement reports and evaluation reports, according to an informational handout provided by SGA.
Gustavo De La Fuente, speaker of the senate for the SGA, is leading the program. In addition to strengthening leadership skills, De La Fuente hopes the program will also empower his peers.
“I didn’t really have that empowerment growing up,” De La Fuente said. “So making sure that other people have that voice, have that experience and the right resources to get the job done is really important to me. I really want people to grow from this experience.”
There are currently 15 student senators in the organization, with 12 of them being first-timers who can receive mentorship, according to Martin Calderon, vice president of the SGA. Student senators are SGA members who are nominated and elected to represent and address issues for their college.
Calderon said he is aware of the invaluable benefits mentoring can yield for student senators.
“Having that person that you can text or call to ask for advice is what we want to provide for the senators,” Calderon said. “It’s a great asset to have someone who can pull from their past experiences to help senators who aren’t sure what to do.”
For first-time senators like Elisha Bedford, the program is important because it helps develop the skills needed for their position.
“I think this program will help incoming senators with learning to better communicate thoughts, suggestions, and ideas with other professional faculty and staff,” Bedford said. “This would help the association in regards to training the senators and preparing them for a successful year. This mentorship would set the tone for the year and, if executed correctly, would better prepare future senators for the position and its duties.”
Heather Olague, director of First-Year Experience at A&M-San Antonio said she believes all students could use a helping hand during their academic journey.
“I think there is a point where we don’t know what we don’t know,” Olague said. “I think we could all use that mentor to provide advice for us in order to avoid repeating mistakes and gain a positive experience.”
The program is set to start later in the semester, said La-Tieka Sims, president of the SGA.
Sims said she believes the program is a step forward toward creating a better culture for the senators.
“An organization is only as good as the people in it,” Sims said. “We hope that by helping our senators, we’ll be helping everyone. Building better leaders will help build a better organization to better represent the students.”