Recap: Futures Initiative Peer Mentoring Workshop

On July 27 and 28 the Futures Initiative hosted its Peer Mentoring Workshop for the 2016-2017 Futures Initiative Peer Mentoring program, which was generously funded by the Teagle Foundation. Take a look at the full agenda of our workshop, and see the full photo set on Flickr.

Day One

Our first workshop day was focused around the theme of developing individual strengths and strengthening others through peer mentoring. Members of the Futures Initiative team, including Cathy Davidson, Lauren Melendez, Mike Rifino, and Thomas DeAngelis welcomed the cohort as the Peer Mentors began to get to know each other over breakfast.

Futures Initiative Peer Mentoring Team

Then the Mentors launched into a game of BINGO that was customized by Lauren, Mike, and Thomas so that they could learn about each other’s strengths and super powers. The Mentors worked together to fill in their cards with a name that corresponded to each BINGO space on their sheets.

Futures Initiative Peer Mentor Bingo Sheet

Futures Initiative Peer Mentors Play BINGO

Futures Initiative Mentors Fill The Room Playing BINGO

Following BINGO, Futures Initiative Fellow Kalle Westerling led the Mentors through a Think-Pair-Share in which they first discussed (1) Three challenges they have had as a college student; What were the outcomes that came out of these challenges? and (2) Three skills/talents they have used in working through these challenges (or helping someone else to work through them).

Kalle Westerling leads Think-Pair-Share

Futures Initiative Mentor Writing

Peer Mentors Discussing In Pairs

After a productive conversation that discussed the best ways to communicate and mediate, Futures Initiative Fellow Allison Guess led the Mentors in a group activity role play. Answering the prompt of “What makes a good mentor?” with both positive and negative outcomes, the Mentors put on short performances for the rest of the group.

Allison Guess leads Peer Mentors

Futures Initiative Mentors work in groups

Futures Initiative Mentors perform for their peers

Kashema Hutchinson, a PhD student in Urban Education at the Graduate Center, CUNY, next led the Mentors in a reflection activity, in which she posed the question, “Based on the think-pair-share and the role play, what are the top three most important qualities of a mentor?”

Kashema Hutchinson and Lauren Melendez at the Futures Initiative

Futures Initiative Peer Mentors

After a break for lunch, Thomas DeAngelis, PhD Student in Earth and Environmental Sciences and Futures Initiative Peer Mentoring Liaison, discussed with the Mentors the history of CUNY, from when it was founded in 1847 and known as the Free Academy, with the mission of providing public higher education to NYC residents, through to the present day where Futures Initiative Mentors can make a real difference.

Thomas DeAngelis for the Futures Initative

Hilarie Ashton, a PhD Candidate in English, worked with the Mentors to Explode the Text in a highly interactive literary-driven exercise.

Hilarie Ashton Exploding the Text

Louise Lennihan, Interim Provost of the Graduate Center, visited the Peer Mentoring Workshop.

Louise Lennihan and Cathy Davidson at the Peer Mentoring Workshop

Next, the Mentors were guided through a resume workshop by Kaysi Holman, Deputy Director of the Humanities Alliance.

Kaysi Holman, Humanities Alliance

Futures Initiative Peer Mentors, Resume Building

The first day of the workshop ended with Hilarie Ashton talking to the Mentors about a book editing project, and Thomas and Lauren wrapped up the day with the Mentors through a writing exercise and concluding discussion.

Day Two

The second day of the Peer Mentoring Workshop kicked off with Lauren and Mike showing the Mentors the word cloud that they generated based on the concluding writing notes of the day before. The Mentors enjoyed breakfast while Futures Initiative Deputy Director Katina Rogers explained the agenda for the day.

Mike Rifino and Lauren Melendez, Peer Mentoring Workshop, The Futures Initiative, Word Cloud

Javiela Evangelista, who teaches at City Tech and is a doctoral candidate in Anthropology, called in from Europe to talk to the Mentors about “The Intersectionality of Love, Social Justice, Peer Mentorship and Public Anthropology,” in which she described how activism and mentorship can advance similar goals. Students participated in a free writing activity and then shared their thoughts with the group.

Javiela Evangelista calls into the Peer Mentoring Workshop

Futures Initiative Mentors Writing

Futures Initiative Mentors Discussing

Lauren Melendez, the Undergraduate Peer Mentoring Director and Administrative Specialist, guided the Mentors through an activity on “Brief Moments That Make a Difference.” Mentors discussed small encounters that had great impact.

Lauren Melendez, The Futures Initiative

Futures Initiative Peer Mentors

Following this discussion, Shadiq Williams, a senior at Brooklyn College, gave an overview of his own experience with mentoring and the different spaces he has had mentors and how they have impacted him.

Shadiq Williams

The next activity was an exciting trivia game called “Who Wants to be a Peer Mentor?” led and refereed by Crystal Rivas, Peer Advisor Academy Coordinator for the Center for Teaching & Learning at LaGuardia Community College. The Mentors wore leis, tossed a ball, and worked together to find answers to common CUNY questions.

Crystal Rivas, Mentor Game

Futures Initiative Peer Mentoring Game

Futures Initiative Peer Mentoring Game

Once the game wrapped up and everyone returned to their seats, Thomas guided the Mentors through a reflection activity, asking the Mentors what their biggest leftover was of the morning, before the group took a lunch break.

After lunch, Mike Rifino, Graduate Fellow and Peer Mentoring Specialist, showed the Mentors a short film about a student at LaGuardia Community College who was facing many challenges. He asked the Mentors to divide themselves by campus and put together a list of resources that they could use to help the student from the video.

Mike Rifino and Peer Mentors

Futures Initiative Graduate Fellows Danica Savonick and Lisa Tagliaferri showed the Mentors the Futures Initiative Commons In A Box site that they could use to put their resources online and connect each other. They also discussed the peer mentoring app Rungway.

The next part of the workshop was entirely Mentor-driven, as the Futures Initiative team left the room and the students created the agenda for their year as Peer Mentors. Together, their task was to outline three main goals they wanted to accomplish as a group.

When the Futures Initiative team returned an hour later, the Mentors walked everyone through their mission, their plans, and their goals.

Mentors explain their mission

Cathy Davidson and the Peer Mentors

Finally, we stood around in a circle to reflect on the past two days and shared one major take-away from the session and how we would work to build a great community together.

Futures Initiative Mentoring Circle

We are looking forward to a great year with the Futures Initiative Peer Mentors!

Futures Initiative Peer Mentors

Futures Initiative Peer Mentors

Futures Initiative Peer Mentors Full Group


The Futures Initiative
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10016-4309