“The mentoring training was nice and fun; not intense at all. We even played games!”
Fatma discovered that mentoring helped new students, or ‘mentees’, feel supported and secure. Having someone their own age who would listen without judgement, boosted their confidence at University. This added support cleared the way for the first year students to focus on learning and developing from the very beginning of their degree.
And, as Fatma discovered, it’s not just the students who benefit; being a mentor had a positive impact on her too. As well as being such a rewarding process, she found that the experience made her manage her own time better, becoming more confident and sure of herself. This was reflected in her own studies.
“Of course, it’s also good for my CV!” she adds, laughing.
Fatma points out that STaR Mentoring did not take up too much of her time, as it was integrated into her daily life. Instead it added value to her own University time and was socially rewarding, too.
“I had such a nice group of mentees – around 20. That sounds a lot, but it works well with the University schedule. I met 10 and emailed the other 10. By their questions, they seemed overwhelmed at times, particularly if they were from another country, where the language barrier may play a part, as well as new systems and home life.
“I was able to help, particularly those limited by language, as I am fortunate to speak four myself. This was reassuring to those of limited English who maybe felt intimidated on arrival. I helped all my mentees to settle, helping them to get their feet on the ground and gain traction into their degree, which is so valuable in the early days of study.”
Fatma cites an example of the empowering effect of being mentored. A young student wished to establish a Turkish society at the University, but she did not know where to start and was hesitant. Fatma was able to advise the young woman and guide her to the right people, with the result that today the Society is growing strongly, having over 25 members at this early stage in its life.
As well as mentoring, Fatma completed her Red Award, which involves a broad range of experiences, including Welcome Week and students in school. These activities all add up to a positive impact on her CV and future employers, but Fatma says that it was the fulfilment and sense of helping others that she really enjoyed.
Having been home-schooled, Fatma appreciated the social side of University and her mentoring, although she feels that home-schooling made her disciplined and self-reliant, qualities she used to help her mentees.
“I came to University an independent person. I hope I conveyed the value of this to my mentees.”
Asked to comment on the STaR Mentoring scheme at Reading, Fatma said:
“It is completely positive. It’s a wonderful idea! All Universities should have it!”
Today, Fatma is proud to report that several of her former mentees are now mentors themselves.
Learn more about the STaR Mentorship scheme and the benefits it brings to both mentors and mentees.