“We chose to create AIM because we wanted to give other young women the motivation and the platform that we lacked as underrepresented women at CSB,” says Frida Alvarez ’17 of the program that she and fellow senior Bryanna Williamson concepted and piloted during the 2016-17 academic year.
By pairing first-year, sophomore and junior mentees with senior mentors, the program strengthens historically underrepresented students’ personal development and leadership. “AIM mentors are Bennies that come from historically underrepresented backgrounds,” says Alvarez. “They have demonstrated leadership around campus, shown a will to work with people and are motivated Bennies. They are successful women that any younger Bennie would benefit from forming a relationship with.”
AIM was launched in January as a pilot program. In addition to establishing mentor/ mentee pairs, the program also hosted monthly seminars on campus to continue developing identity, leadership and self-awareness. The results were encouraging enough that AIM is being brought back for the 2017-18 academic year. “We hoped to create AIM as a pathway for our Bennies to be rooted in their identity and thus more confident in their skills to organize and create the change they deem necessary for their success at CSB/SJU,” says Alvarez.
For Alvarez and Williamson, the hope is that AIM will be a place for first-generation students to be themselves and ask the questions they feel afraid to ask. “We’ve really tried to create a space where students feel comfortable to be themselves, but still a little uncomfortable to challenge them to grow into better human beings,” Alvarez reflects. “I believe this space will empower students to take charge of their education and be rooted in their identity to succeed at an institution like this.”