Several people nominated Grace Keel as the Peer Mentor to highlight in this issue. She has mentored in UNIV sections and in Psychology sections and left an AUMazing impression on faculty in both departments.
Grace’s journey as a peer mentor started because she was looking for ways to give back to campus. She felt that becoming a mentor was a way she could use her “mom” personality to be there to support her fellow students and help make their transition into college a little bit easier. “My favorite part of being a Peer Mentor has always been the ability to provide encouragement to students who are struggling,” Grace said. “It was so rewarding specifically in classes that I remembered struggling in. At some point, we’ve all felt lost in a classroom and didn’t know where to go, so being the resource students felt comfortable coming to was so powerful.”
For any students thinking about becoming a peer mentor, Grace’s advice is “to absolutely give it a try. I remember being nervous about what it would be like when I first applied. However, the experience has been invaluable. I was so lucky to not only get to peer mentor for some of my favorite professors, but I also gained mentors out of professors I didn’t initially know.”
Grace Keel was an incredible peer mentor. She was professional yet relatable in all her communications and interactions with the students. She was great at conveying to students that she knew what it was like to struggle with the same concepts, topics, and assignments; she also excelled at helping them feel like they could overcome these struggles with focus and repetition. Grace made it clear that there was no shame in seeking help from a peer mentor—in fact, reaching out for help was the mature thing to do and the best way to ensure ultimate success. She was always punctual, available, and helpful. You really couldn’t ask for more of your peer mentor.– Heather Adams, UNIV Lecturer and Student Success Mentor
The experience of being a peer mentor isn’t just for the benefit of the students being mentored, it is for the mentor too. To get the most from the experience of being a peer mentor, Grace strongly encourages mentors “make an effort to get to know the professor you are working under.” She continued about her own experience, “I would often stay after class if the professor had time to chat. Through doing that with multiple professors and over long semesters, I learned so much about different fields and career opportunities. Ultimately, those conversations have ended up being some of the most impactful.”
Like many of our mentors, Grace also hoped that becoming a mentor would further develop her leadership skills. “My leadership skills have greatly benefitted. Learning to adapt to has been so important.” Having heard the comments of some of Grace’s Professors, we would say that Grace was already a strong leader before becoming a peer mentor. For someone who claims to be out of her comfort zone in a leadership position, she has done remarkably well at it. Just this past April, Grace was selected to be a Chancellor’s Scholar not just for her outstanding scholarly achievements, but for her excellence in leadership and service as well.
When she’s not busy excelling on campus or at work, Grace can be found whipping up something in the kitchen. She loves to cook and bake, especially, if it is for other people. To her, nothing beats seeing people enjoy the food that she prepares.
Well done, Grace and congratulations on your upcoming graduation!