BCFS Peer Mentor Speaks On Beneficial Learning Methods for CSUN Students

April 23, 2014

By Kristina Munoz

It is 8:45 a.m. on Friday February 14 and over 100 cross disciplinary California State University, Northridge professors and faculty begin gathering in the University Student Union Grand Salon for the “Enhancing the Academic Potential of our Students” panel.

Faculty from Building Connections for Success are dispersed throughout the audience.  They are a form of support for one of the panelists: BCFS peer mentor Sirvard Kubelian.

The 20-year-old Biology sophomore student was chosen by Mentorship Coordinator Adriana Garcia to represent the BCFS community in the panel.

Upon notice of being chosen as a panelist, Kubelian said she was honored and grateful for the opportunity to be a voice for the students of CSUN.  She was determined to accurately and concisely explain to faculty how the implementation of certain classroom practices are affecting the learning of students.  The event was designed to be an interactive discussion on how to incorporate CSUN’s best practices for the improvement of the learning environment for students.

“I chose Sirvard as our representing peer mentor because she has been one of our many success stories of the Title V grant,” said Garcia. “She came into the program as a freshman and received the services of BCFS.  In effect of the great mentorship she received from her mentors and faculty, she decided to become a mentor herself.”

When taking her own University 100 class, it was her peer mentor who influenced her to apply to become a peer mentor.  She wanted to give back to future CSUN students and be a relatable person they can turn to when a student needs help adjusting to the university system.

Last semester, Kubelian was one of the two peer mentors designated to Professor Mary Rigg’s University 100 class.

“It was an eye-opening experience,” said Kubelian. “I was a peer mentor with the same teacher I had for my University 100 class.  It allowed for an easier transition into being a mentor for thirteen students in the class.”

Kubelian recalls feeling nervous as she entered Rigg’s Univeristy 100 class for the first time with the role of a peer mentor.  However as students began viewing her as a mentor available for help in developing as a student, she began to enter the classroom with more confidence.

“Sirvard has truly blossomed in her mentorship capacity,” Garcia said. “Coming into the program some would argue that she had the upper hand since she had mentors herself and she knew what to expect.  However once she began mentoring in the class and with students, Sirvard worked hard to be a mentor to others.”

As a mentor and a student, Kubelian looked back on her knowledge and experience to answer questions asked during the “Enhancing the Academic Potential of our Students” panel.

Kubelian mentions the need for technology in the classrooms.  She acknowledges that using “Google” allows students to participate in discussions and gather their thoughts on a particular topic.

Kubelian views her mentorship role as a bridge between freshman students and professors.  She understands a faculty member’s reasons for choosing a learning method and she hears students’ feedback on how that particular method works to progress their learning.

“I personally admire a professor who is friendly and welcoming,” said Kubelian in regards to ways faculty can be approachable. “I believe smiling often and checking on a students’ progress is a great way to form a connection with students.”

A second aspect, Kubelian notes during the panel is the positivity of “lecture capture”.  She mentions it is convenient, helpful and positive for students to view a video of a professor’s lecture.  Kubelian states the video can also be a study tool to better prepare students for tests.

By noting these positive classroom tactics, Kubelian is ensuring faculty see a few teaching methods that students view as interesting.

As a peer mentor, Kubelian mentions her mentees did not solely benefit from a mentorship relationship.  She states that her time as a peer mentor allows for educational and personal growth.  She continues to learn from her peers and works as a mentor to ensure they progress as well.

“Professor Glenn Omatsu (faculty mentorship lead) often says that mentorship is a two way street,” said Garcia.  “Not only do students receive ‘services (resources, guidance, personal advice and experiences)’ from the mentor but the mentor also receives.”

Kubelian does not see her mentorship role ending at the end of a University 100 class.  She wants the mentor and mentee relationship to continue past the classroom setting.

“The students and I developed really close bonds,” said Kubelian.  “Even though the class has ended, I currently meet some students for coffee and a chat.  I treasure those relationships.”

Her mentorship role is one aspect of her time at CSUN that she does not want to stop.

 “Being a mentor for BCFS is a greatly rewarding experience that I plan to continue throughout my years at CSUN,” said Kubelian.  “The program helped me grow in my interpersonal skills and public speaking practices.  Despite how comfortable I feel now, I want to continue to grow in these skills.”

Her mentor, Garcia, witnesses her positive work ethic.

 “Amongst the other reasons, Kubelian stands out as a reliable, responsible, organized and punctual individual,” said Garcia.