Super supportive graduates join the ranks to boost student success

Date 24.01.2022

A team of nine recent UON graduates has been recruited by the University as Student Success Mentors, working within the Faculty of Business and Law.

The team of Student Success Mentors (SSM) includes Francine Bitalo, Lenny Emanuel, Samuel Fajuyitan, Lara Falkner, Billy Little, Kiera Slaven, Santhosh Srithar, Stephanie Richards and Tré Ventour, who offer support to students to help them navigate student life, offering a listening ear and the opportunity to talk confidentially about matters that are impacting their wellbeing and performance at University.

From Monday to Friday, 11-12pm the team offers a drop-in session for students, both virtually and in person in the drop in space, in the Learning Hub. The team offers a range of support and advice, from action planning to get students back on track with their studies, signposting to the teams across the University who can support students facing difficulties, as well as advocating for students to achieve resolutions to issues they’re facing.

Dr Angela Rushton, Associate Dean of the Faculty of Business and Law said: “The Student Success Mentors are all recent UON graduates, their first-hand experience of student life and successfully completing their studies at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

“As well as offering open drop-in sessions, the team work with students to offer bespoke support for each student to get their studies back on track, and offer support to resolve issues within a students’ personal life, which might be impacting their focus on university.”

Lara Falkner, who studied Professional Policing at UON, said: “The most challenging part of studying was the competing deadlines of assignments, alongside working two jobs and working as a Special Constable for Northamptonshire Police. It was hard to find a balance between attending Lectures, completing assessments, working, and finding time to socialise.

“I overcame this barrier by setting myself checklists, creating a timetable, and had a productive meeting with my personal tutor to discuss tips on how to manage my time and how to deal with competing deadlines. It worked for me, and I hope that the tools, tips, and suggestions I can share with students will them to achieve their full potential.”

It was invaluable support from a mentor that motivated Billy Little, who studied his undergraduate and postgraduate Marketing programmes with UON, to take up the role. Billy said: “I believe that everyone has what it takes to succeed at university. Sometimes it just requires that extra little bit of help getting there and that’s exactly why I became an SSM – to help students from all backgrounds achieve their greatest potential.”

Although the support is bespoke to each students’ needs, throughout the next semester, the team will be launching a series of videos across student social media channels that tackle hot topics aligned to the academic calendar, for example, assessment support, as well as the questions and answers to the most frequently asked questions.

Lenny Emanuel, a Law graduate, who balanced his studies alongside roles with Student’s Union Sports and Societies, said: “A lot of students just need a little bit of knowledgeable guidance. The SSMs during my time at university were instrumental in me improving my study methods, not just for law but also balancing it alongside my other projects. I simply just hope to pay forward what I have gained.”

Speaking about why he believes the Student Success Mentor role is a powerful tool to help students, Tré Ventour said: “Many of the mentors have been in your positions so they will be speaking from a position of relatability and experience. They know exactly how you feel. Here then, you will find that your experience is not isolated and there’s some comfort in knowing that.”

If you are a Faculty of Business and Law student, you can email the team directly.