The Impact of Peer Mentorship
Chibuikem Onwuogu shares his experience with the Forsythe Grange Mentoring Program
Chibuikem (Chib) Onwuogu (‘23) is one of four College of Natural Sciences’ Forsythe Grange Scholars for the 2022-2023 school year. The Forsythe Grange Mentoring Program creates scholarships and training opportunities for undergraduate students to be engaged in mentorship, especially students belonging to underserved groups in science disciplines. These students could be first-generation, underrepresented minorities, and/or demonstrate financial need.
The program is geared towards academically talented students who are passionate about helping younger peers develop academic and leadership skills.
Chib, a senior biology student on the pre-med track, mentors nine first-year students, helping them navigate campus life, classes, and their unique student experience. He is also involved with the UMass Brotherly Union, Peer-Led Team-Based Learning in Chemistry, and the Pediatric Physical Activity Laboratory at UMass.
He shares, “I never had a mentor my freshman year, and I am happy to be a part of this program to build community. The program helps you become a better person and a leader. I welcomed the challenge of mentoring freshman students and figuring out how to best connect with them on an individual level.”
Forsythe Grange Scholars are typically rising juniors and seniors studying science. Scholars receive scholarships and extensive training in effective mentoring approaches, communication, and leadership skills. They are charged with mentoring first-year students for a full academic year. During that time, mentors develop personally and professionally and have the opportunity to network with faculty.
“The program has helped me learn how to navigate through all the trials and errors I’ve had during my time as a student at UMass. It’s also taught me how to turn my struggles into learning experiences for the freshmen I work with so that they have an easier time at UMass,” Chib says.
Melishia Santiago, Director of the College of Natural Sciences Office of Student Success and Diversity, facilitates new scholars' transition into the program and ensures they are empowered to lead. She shares, “Chib has been an amazing peer mentor who really cares about his mentees. He is dedicated to his students and has been able to create a community for them.”
Through the Forsythe Grange program, Chib says he formed an invaluable community of support, friendship, and encouragement. “The best part of this program is the amazing people. The students involved have so much talent, and I have made great friendships with my mentees and other mentors in the program.”
Post-graduation, Chib plans to attend medical school and pursue a career as a doctor. According to Chib, Forsythe Grange made an impact on his future career, “The program has helped me become an even better leader. Networking with this community and my advisors and professors helped me thrive and excel in a competitive environment.”
For those considering becoming a mentor, Chib shares, “Your opportunity to grow as a person, a student, and a leader in the community is extremely rewarding. I entered this program to help other students, and without realizing it, I also helped myself.”
For more information about the Forsythe Grange Mentoring Program, visit the program web page.
College of Natural Sciences