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Opportunity Scholars program expands, increases role of student mentors

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Opportunity Scholars program expands, increases role of student mentors

The 2018-2019 Opportunity Scholars group. Photo Courtesy Macire Aribot.

The 2018-2019 Opportunity Scholars group. Photo Courtesy Macire Aribot.

The 2018-2019 Opportunity Scholars group. Photo Courtesy Macire Aribot.

The 2018-2019 Opportunity Scholars group. Photo Courtesy Macire Aribot.

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Changes and expansions have come to the Mercer University Opportunity Scholars (OS) program this year.

The program is catered to incoming first-generation college students, students with disabilities and students from low-income families to help them transition to college life. It originally lasted a week before the start of the school year, but now lasts all year with the assistance of student leaders called Opportunity Scholars Ambassadors, or OSAs, who now serve for a full year.

“OSAs and fellows now have the opportunity to build stronger relationships with one, another and ambassadors are able to provide greater mentorship to fellows,” Macire Aribot, an opportunity scholars ambassador, said in an email to The Cluster.

Programs and events are now held by the OSAs instead of counselors from Student Support Services, the office that oversees Opportunity Scholars.

“This change allowed fellows to get a student perspective on things like managing mental health in college or innovative ways to save money,” Aribot said.

The program also now features a newsletter for first-years that “provides OS fellows with encouraging words, updates on the great things other fellows have been achieving and news about upcoming events and workshops on campus,” she said.

For Savannah Duringer, a freshman majoring in graphic design, the Opportunity Scholars program has been a huge help.

“I can’t express how helpful it is to have a mentor who understands what you are dealing with during your first year and be there willing to tackle any situation with you,” Duringer said.

Duringer joined OS to make new friends, and “get a head start on the college lifestyle,” she said, and she urges others to join.

“It builds a strong foundation for a successful first year, and it also is a wonderful support system that many of us need while stepping into this new chapter in our lives,” she said.

The OSAs are helpful in creating this support system, Duringer said.

“They do this through one-on-one meetings and by building a personal relationship with you,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine starting college without having been an OS.”

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Opportunity Scholars program expands, increases role of student mentors