Mentorship program a success after its first year, moving for a second

By Kaylee Kean

Graduation is approaching, and with it the fear of the unknown. Students have begun to ask themselves: What do I do now? Where should I go?

One program has risen to try to dispel these fears and make students more prepared for a future outside of Oakland University.

The program, Leadership OU, was brought to the table this year by the Oakland University Alumni Association.

Maria Willet, Student Outreach Coordinator for the OUAA and one of the program’s key planners, said the goal was to give students “the opportunity to be prepared for the professional world, and how to get involved in the real world.”

Students get a $250 scholarship upon completion of the program, according to Willet. Each student must attend a certain amount of events throughout the academic year – this year it was six out of seven events, and next year it will be seven out of eight – and meet with his or her mentor an hour each month.

“It’s about creating that connection to the alumni association in general,” Willet said. “It’s up to the mentor and mentee what kind of a relationship they want to have.”

Willet said she hopes the program has and will continue to help engage students and benefit them in the long run.

One student, she said, put it best: “There’s not a CSA for when you graduate.”

“They’re great students, they’re great mentors,” Willet said. “You know your program’s good when you want to do what the kids are doing.”

Scottie Shermetaro, junior mechanical engineering major, was one of the students who participated in the first year of the program.

“I thought it would be a really neat way to see how other students kind of made the most of their experience here at Oakland and how they’re applying that to their daily lives now,” Shermetaro said.

His mentor was Stephen Parker, who works for Chrysler’s Street and Racing Technology department.

Shermetaro said he actually met Parker last summer when he interned at Chrysler. After filling out a survey for Leadership OU to match students with the right mentor, he just happened to be matched with Parker.

While his education and degree is important, Shermetaro said there are a lot of things he and Parker focused on that branched out of the classroom experience, including leadership skills, work ethics and networking.

“We get coffee a lot,” Shermetaro said. “We also went to a basketball game and we went to a Chrysler event that was actually at the Red Ox, and he introduced me to a lot of his recruitment teams.”

Shermetaro and the other participants also met with other alumni and influential people in the area, including the mayor of Rochester Hills and the Chamber of Commerce.

“In that part of the program they’re trying to hook you up with other alumni and kind of see where people are,” Shermetaro said. “That’s kind of a really cool way to see what else is out there.”

Applications are due Friday, April 18 to participate in the program next year, according to Willet. Students must have a minimum of 56 credit hours completed, a GPA of 3.0 and a history of student leadership and campus involvement. All majors are accepted.

“Go for it,” Shermetaro said. “I definitely think that the connections and the networking that you’re able to do (with alumni, mentors and other students)… just the conversations that you get to have with them, other motivated students, is completely worth it.”

Students interested in the program can visit www.oualumni.com/leadershipou for more information.