A day in the life of a PACT mentor in Mercy College’s nationally-renowned and groundbreaking PACT program is anything but ordinary: mentors provide guidance on financial aid, career services and academics; know every degree and course requirement in the 90+ programs offered across the College’s five Schools; plan student life activities and community service events; and address whatever questions students ask. Sound overwhelming? As part of
National Mentoring Month in January, three of PACT’s newest mentors sat down to tell us about their jobs and said they would not have it any other way.
Being a Mentor
According to Leigh Smadbeck, a PACT mentor of one year, “I like being able to perform all aspects of counseling—career, financial, personal and academic advising. What I enjoy the most is supporting my students so that they can earn
their degrees. I know I am making a difference in their personal, academic and financial lives. The PACT program is the strongest support system I can think of for college students.”
Patricia De Angelo has been with PACT for one-and-one-half years. She first heard about the program in 2009 while attending a counseling conference. Her
favorite aspect of PACT is the one-on-one interaction with students. “The most rewarding part of my job is to see my students succeed, and eventually, down the road, walk across the stage at Commencement. As a mentor, you might be
extremely busy but to know you helped even one person each day can turn your
whole day around.”
PACT mentors are involved in students’ lives in many ways outside of the learning atmosphere.
Patricia Payano is a PACT mentor in her second semester. In addition to her role as a mentor, she is also the community service coordinator. After a recent event in which Mercy student-volunteers worked with local middle schoolers to create “vision boards”—storyboards with goals for their future—the Mercy students told Payano they felt a sense of “Mercy Pride” by giving back and taking part in the event. As their mentor, she found the experience to be hugely rewarding.
Earlier this year, De Angelo helped to organize Hurricane Sandy relief efforts in the Rockaways, where she is from, including a few day trips to conduct clean-up work.
Payano worked as a judge in the student talent show last semester, saying, “It was so great to see the students performing and singing, playing instruments, reading poetry, doing comedy. I am used to speaking with them about academic or personal goals and it was so much fun to see their creative sides. The evening was magical.”
Payano has also had the opportunity to get to know the parents of some of her students over the phone, walking them through financial aid procedures.
PACT team members say they enjoy building relationships with all students and not only those in their case load, including others who they meet and in the PACT offices, through their colleagues and at events.
“I like getting to know each student, where they are from, what they are interested in and what challenges they might face. Some highlights have been working the Relay for Life event and running career development workshops, such as Career Boot Camp and Resume Review Week,” added Smadbeck.
Mercy College’s PACT has been recognized by the White House and serves as a national model for student mentoring and retention. PACT is an official “Best Practice” of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) for career services and student retention.The program revolutionizes the college experience by providing an unsurpassed level of individualized support to students from enrollment through employment.
From picking classes to choosing a major, from finding extracurricular activities to landing an internship and a job, Mercy College PACT mentors help students navigate the college experience and beyond.
“Our students realize that PACT is a unique program and they are fortunate to have it. I hear them talking with friends about their PACT mentor, almost as if they are bragging about the program and what it affords them,” concluded Payano.