IU student gives back to FASE program, which helped her navigate college life

Guest blog by Hanah Casey, Indiana University  junior and peer mentor for the Faculty and Staff for Student Excellence program:

When I came to IU, I was completely overwhelmed. I had to learn where my classes were, what organizations to join and how to make new friends. There was so much new information all at once, that I wasn’t sure how to approach my first week of classes.

Hanah Casey

Hanah Casey

Luckily, I connected with a mentor through the Faculty and Staff for Student Excellence program. FASE is a program within the Office of Mentoring Services and Leadership Development that helps students become successful through mentoring services. My mentor, Hannah, definitely helped me navigate my freshman year.

I first heard about FASE during my summer orientation when I stopped by a booth at the library. The program provides support for first-year students, helping them navigate the university for their entire college career. Many FASE students are underrepresented demographically, and the program aims to ensure that they are successful during their time here at IU.

FASE provides four main forms of support: academic, transitional, career and leadership development. Students who sign up for a mentor are able to pick from a variety of highly trained mentors based on similar majors, hometowns or interests. Mentors and protégés (what we call mentees) then meet to create goals and work together to accomplish them throughout the year. Mentors are there for protégés no matter their needs, whether they want to attend a career fair together or meet up to sign up for classes. Support is based entirely on the needs of the students.

FASE also focuses on helping students with their transition to the campus by holding events throughout the year for them to attend. Just recently the group held a study-abroad panel based on the experiences of mentors, and this week FASE will host a business etiquette dinner for students. FASE also has social events that connects protégés, such as our meet-and-greet held at the beginning of the year and community service events that allow everyone to work together for a common goal.

FASE poster

FASE mentors Hanah Casey, left, and Claire Moran, right, stand by their winning poster presented at this year’s National Mentoring Symposium at IUPUI.

As soon as I heard about FASE, I fell in love with the message and wanted to become a mentor myself. As an education major, I felt really strongly about helping others and I knew that I would be able to share my own experiences with my protégés.

Now a junior, I am currently in my second year in the program and now serve as a mentor to others. I have been able to participate in so many amazing events as part of the program. Just a few weeks ago we attended the National Mentoring Symposium at IUPUI. This is a program that welcomes mentors from across the country to share their experiences with other students for a day. I was lucky to present for FASE at two different sessions: one focused on diversity in mentoring and the other focused on community service in the mentoring relationship. I also worked with other FASE mentors to present a poster that advertised our organization, and we actually won an award based on the other attendee’s votes. It was an amazing day for the FASE mentors and protégés who attended this event, and we will be able to use the information that we learned at this symposium in the future as we expand our program.

My experience with FASE has been absolutely amazing, largely because of the relationships that I have been able to build with my protégés. Last year, for example, I received a letter from one of my students thanking me for showing them everything there is to love about IU. This note was so meaningful, and I am so proud of everything that this student has accomplished to this day.

FASE students

Members of IU’s FASE program pose for a photo during a recent symposium.

I also shared an opportunity to study abroad in Cuba with one of my protégés, and we went together in June 2015. I probably would not have learned about this opportunity if it were not for constant encouragement from Patrick Smith, director of FASE, to expand our leadership opportunities both on campus and in the surrounding community.

The success of a student’s college career can largely depend on the support they are provided during the overwhelming moments of their first year. The main focus of FASE is therefore on students so they can learn how to transition into the university and continue their development over the next four years.

First-year students interested in receiving a mentor can apply online. Applications for mentors are accepted in the spring, but students who are interested may email me at hrcasey@indiana.edu with any questions.

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