Disability Support Services announces new mentorship program

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With Oakland University’s fall semester just around the corner, the Office of Disability Support Services (DSS) is announcing a new program. In collaboration with the College of Arts and Sciences and Beaumont’s Project SEARCH, DSS will offer a Peer-to-Peer Mentorship program. Sarah Guadalupe, director of DSS at OU, breaks down the newest addition to the office.

What prompted the idea of a mentorship program?

We have had peer-to-peer mentorships on a smaller scale in the past and students responded positively. We decided that it would be important to expand the peer-to-peer program to ensure we are meeting the social-emotional needs of students.  Students can learn important social skills and build relationships with same-aged peers through this type of mentorship program.

What are the logistics of the program? How are students paired together and how often will they meet with their mentors? 

The program consists of OU students registering for a 4-credit hour course, which is cross-listed in OU’s Psychology, Social Work and Sociology departments, although any student can take the course. Instructor permission is required, I’m the instructor this fall.  The students will be taught an overview of disabilities, as well as peer-mediated instruction techniques. After the foundation has been provided, the students will be paired with OU students with disabilities that have requested a mentor and have identified similar interests. 

We are also working with Project SEARCH, a program that provides internships for students with disabilities during their last year of high school; we will be partnering with the Troy Beaumont site with the idea that the OU students enrolled in the course will serve as peer mentors for the students enrolled in the Project SEARCH program. We believe that this not only assists OU students, but also fosters positive community relationships and collaboration. Mentors will meet with their mentees approximately 2 hours per week.

What is the primary goal of this program?

The goal of the program is to provide, create and increase social opportunities for students with disabilities on and off campus.  Additionally, students who serve as mentors will gain important leadership, advocacy, and personal and educational growth opportunities.     

How do you think it will strengthen the OU community?  

This program will create and increase social opportunities, foster relationships and create a positive social experience for students.  Additionally, with the collaboration with Project SEARCH, we will be creating positive community partnerships and relationships.  

DSS works with 700-750 students each semester with the goal of creating an inclusive environment for all students to thrive in. Students interested in learning more about DSS, receiving support, or joining the mentorship program can visit Oakland University’s Disability Support Services homepage.