Northern Michigan University’s nationally recognized Student Leader Fellowship Program (SLFP) is seeking community leaders to serve as leadership mentors. The SLFP pairs citizens who are active in the local community with NMU students who are in the first year of the SLFP.
“The goal for our program is to help develop students into ethical, competent, community-centered leaders,” said Hannah Lewis, assistant director of the Center for Student Enrichment. “We selected 60 students to participate in the Student Leader Fellowship Program, which means we need to identify that many mentors. Prospective mentors typically are involved in the community at various levels. They are often affiliated with service clubs, are civically involved or are involved with organizations or projects that contribute to building a community.”
The SLFP at NMU is a two-year program. In addition to the mentoring relationship, students must attend two overnight fall retreats, complete a two-credit leadership theory and practice course and participate in 15 Skill Builder! Workshops. As a culminating experience, they mus also organize, plan and implement a year-long community service internship.
“Since the program began in 1991, we have been able to match each of our students with a mentor from the community,” Lewis said. “When we tell other universities about the Student Leader Fellowship Program, this is what impresses them the most—a small community with a huge capacity to support young leaders. All told, 770 different individuals have served as mentors, and many of them have done so on more than one occasion.”
NMU student Abby Fifarek was recently paired with community leader Gail Anthony of the Marquette County Community Foundation for the mentoring component of the SLFP.
“My favorite part of the mentor-mentee aspect is having the opportunity to learn and receive guidance from Gail, all while creating a friendship that I hope lasts years beyond my time here at Northern,” Fifarek said. “Gail has been so generous for sharing her time with me to support my development as a student, friend and aspiring young businesswoman. We have also discovered how much we have in common, such as a love for our families, our faith and even sweet treats!”
Anthony said she decided to volunteer again with SLFP after her daughter left for college and received help from others acclimating to the new academic environment. Anthony viewed it as a way to “pay it forward” and help Abby in a similar way.
“I truly enjoy spending time with Abby,” Anthony said. “She’s always eager to try new things and appreciative of anything I do to help her. Our conversations remind me of those special people in my life who took so many hours with me when I was her age trying to figure everything out. I feel as though I’m truly making a difference when I help students with decisions like major changes and daily issues. It's also fun to share my work at the foundation and in the community with them. The SLFP at NMU is an exemplary program that benefits both students and mentors, we are fortunate to have this opportunity available to us. It is such a privilege to be a small part of these young women's lives and watch them grow into strong professionals.”
To become an SLFP mentor, or for more information on the program, contact Lewis at 227-1771 or firstname.lastname@example.org.