A formal mentor program for African-American freshmen students at North Carolina State University was the brainchild of Thomas Conway and Elwood Becton. The program, which began in 1980, paired freshmen with faculty and staff who served as mentors by making contact with them and by offering assistance throughout their freshman year.
As a result of a 1981 campus telephone survey indicating student preference for an upper-class peer as a mentor, the program experienced a period of review and reorganization during 1981-82. Individuals instrumental in this planning and advisory process were Brenda Allen, Winser Alexander, Elwood Becton, Lawrence Clark, Thomas Conway, Bill Grant, Wandra Hill, Don Locke, Wilma Peebles, Evelyn Reiman and Gus Witherspoon, to name a few. Thus, in fall 1982, the Peer Mentor Program was born and the concept of “students helping students” became the guiding philosophy. Michael Headen and Andre Givens, graduate assistants, were the first “coordinators” for the program.
Also during this early period, attempts to get funding for the program were spearheaded by Edwina White Thompson, Special Assistant to Associate Vice Chancellor Tom Stafford. The Program was funded by external sources during 1982-83. Ms. Thompson subsequently assumed the position of Program Director when it became formally housed within the Division of Student Affairs in 1983. She served as Director from 1983 to September 1985. During this time, the Program was an independent program in Student Affairs reporting directly to Associate Vice-Chancellor Stafford. From 1982 to the present, the program has undergone significant growth and many positive changes.
Today, the Peer Mentor Program is stronger and more effective in aiding the academic, emotional, and social adjustment of not only African-American students, but all culturally diverse first year students.