By Krissy Ness
A new mentorship system is helping diverse students succeed in our community.
Students and staff from SPECTRUM and the Rainbow Dragon Center have come together with surrounding colleges and others to provide support to the LGBTQ+ community with the Pulse Mentorship Program.
“It is designed to support LGBTQ+ students and creates a safe space for students to be themselves and explore their identity,” said Olivia Matthews, the coordinator of Multicultural Affairs and a leader for the program. “It also provides resources and guidance (to) engage in open dialogues and discussion while assisting in navigating workplace or school environments.”
Students also help to oversee the program’s success. Jayce Branden, the co-founder of the mentorship program, has been working hard to make it something he never had in high school. Branden explained he had to find information for himself, which was a difficult process.
“The only thing I had was the internet,” Branden said. “If I needed to know something or how to do something, I had to do research.”
Now, the mentors will be a resource for students like Branden, and there are plenty of them. After open enrollment for participants, the program ended up with more mentors than mentees. It was a great problem to have for a project that is just getting started.
“We’re just opening it up to high schoolers, so we are setting up meetings with high school counselors and trying to connect with the local Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) in the school to let them know it’s a thing,” Matthews said.
“If I need advice on anything or where I can go for help, or how to find jobs and safe spaces within the community, I can go to my mentor,” MSUM student Miranda Bowser said. “It was nice to know they had this program going on, because I didn’t have that in high school; we had a GSA, but I didn’t really get to participate because it was so new.”
The Pulse Mentorship Program founders want to help people develop goals for future plans, connect students to the larger LGBTQ+ community and offer support.
Twenty percent of millennials identify as LGBTQ+, according to a recent study from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), so programs such as this one have the ability to impact incoming students for many years.
Participating in mentoring can benefit not only the mentor and mentee, but also others within the community. The Rainbow Dragon Center and Office of Diversity and Inclusion offer applications to become a mentor or mentee.
“You don’t have to identify; you can be questioning,” Branden said. “This program is open to anyone, and we have lots of spots available.”
* Featured photo graphic designed and created by Jayce Branden.