FastStart, a mentoring program for first-year students at Penn State, is currently seeking faculty, staff, and alumni mentors. Sponsored by the Penn State Alumni Association and the Division of Student Affairs, FastStart creates a mentoring triad between a student, a Penn State alum, and a faculty or staff member.
FastStart has experienced a nearly-300-percent increase in its participation numbers since its inception in 1996. And while mentor numbers are at an all-time high, the program still struggles to fill the student demand. Faculty, staff, and alumni mentors are needed to help the program meet the needs of first-year students—helping those students succeed in their transition to Penn State.
Over the past eight years FastStart has served more than 800 students. Of those students who have participated in the program, 89 percent have either graduated or remain enrolled at the University. Graduation and retention rates for FastStart participants are consistently higher than the University Park average for students of color.
Students are not the only ones benefiting from the program. Better than 90 percent of faculty and staff members rate the program either outstanding or very good. “Being a FastStart mentor was very rewarding, and I loved the connectedness with the student,” said mentor Melinda Stearns ’75. “This program allows me a unique look into the lives of students, the ability to give back to Penn State, and the opportunity to enrich my own life by learning from new, young, and interesting friends.”
While the program is designed to assist underrepresented students, it is open to all students new to University Park wishing to take advantage of the mentoring triad, and all interested faculty, staff, and alumni are encouraged to register as mentors.
For more information or to volunteer, please visit the Alumni Association’s Web site at http://www.alumni.psu.edu or contact the FastStart office at 814-863-6386. Applications are also available at the FastStart office located at 17 HUB-Robeson Center.