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Published April 22, 2024

Mentor program links up students

The Link-Up Student Mentoring Program matches new University students with upperclassmen each year.

When Kelsey Schroeder came to the University of Minnesota last year, she didnâÄôt know the campus or what she would major in. Amanda Farris, on the other hand, was a biology major in her junior year.

The two were matched up through the Link-Up Student Mentoring Program, but not because of career goals or academic interests.

It was ice skating that brought them together.

âÄúWe both had a history in ice skating, and so we could bond over that,âÄù Farris said.

The Link-Up program, which began last year, pairs freshmen and transfer students with upperclassmen to help them adjust to college life.

 âÄúAt first it was overwhelming, but with Link-Up I felt like I had an older sister to turn to for help,âÄù said Schroeder, now a sophomore who plans to go intostudy biomedical engineering.

Farris, a Link-Up executive board member and mentor, said the program is a well-rounded approach to help students succeed in their first year at the University.

 âÄúI think a lot of other student mentoring groups are solely based off of academics, but in Link-Up, we choose what activities we want to do together and build our friendship,âÄù Farris said.

During its first year, Link-Up matched more than 74 pairs. Mentees are paired with mentors through connections like common interests, schools or religion.

Mentors and mentees commit to a full academic year of participation. The pairs meet together at least twice in the first month and at least once a month for the rest of the year. Meetings range from a coffee shop study dates to playing intramural sports during the week.

University seniors and Link-Up co-founders Jezelle Ryan and Andrea Smolinski said they felt overwhelmed coming to such a big school, and wanted to give new students an easy transition into life at the University. They started the program last year to give freshmen and transfer students a friend who could offer advice and knowledge during their first year on campus.

âÄúWe want to make a difference in studentsâÄô lives,âÄù Ryan said. âÄúI want new students to love and enjoy the University as much as I do!âÄù

Farris said the program has offered many opportunities to both Schroeder and herself.

âÄúMentors gain positive leadership experiences as well as a chance to give back to their college by helping fellow Gophers,âÄù Farris said. âÄúMentees have the awesome opportunity to connect with upperclassmen who have been there and can show them the ropes.âÄù

Transfer student and University sophomore Macie Lupica said she is thinking about joining Link-Up to find a mentor.

âÄúComing from a smaller school, the University of California, San Diego, I felt really overwhelmed,âÄù Lupica said. âÄúI feel a program like this would really help people like me and it shows students care.âÄù

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