Peer mentoring program helps students find success
KENNESAW, Ga. (Sep 13, 2019) — As the youngest child in a large family, Danielle Griffin was a bit nervous when she first entered Kennesaw State. She had often relied upon her older siblings for advice and now she was on her own.
Without her family for support, Griffin turned to Kennesaw State’s Odyssey Peer Mentoring Program to help her navigate her first year of college.
The program, which began in 2015 and serves more than 3,000 students annually, helps new freshman and transfer students successfully transition to college while giving students who serve as mentors leadership development experience.
For Griffin’s mentor, Bri Burleson-Williams, being a leader and helping someone younger was a familiar role.
“I am the oldest of three girls, so being a leader and role model is something that I’ve been doing for the majority of my life,” she said. “I loved helping my siblings and being a resource for them so this was the perfect opportunity for me.”
What she didn’t expect was what she received in return.
“Being Danielle’s mentor, meant that I had someone who relied on me, someone I needed to be accountable to and that was something beneficial for my own growth,” said Burleson-Williams.
While the program randomly matches peers with their mentors, both Griffin and Burleson-Williams felt their match was a natural fit.
“Danielle was truly heaven-sent and perfection in my eyes,” said Burleson-Williams. “I always made myself available to her whether she had questions on how to email a professor or even if she needed some dating advice.”
For Danielle, Bri was a friendly face and someone she could turn to who would encourage her when she needed an extra push, cheer her on when she achieved success, support and listen to her when she needed a friend.
“Bri helped me in so many ways. She refined my social skills and encouraged me to go for what I want. She helped me develop professionally by introducing me to people and situations that challenged me, and helped boost my confidence,” said Griffin. “Ultimately, Bri showed me what a true friend is by being there when it was easy and when it was hard.”
Today, on track to graduate in 2021, Griffin, an Honors College sophomore majoring in public relations, believes that her current academic success had a lot to do with her participation in the Odyssey Peer Mentoring Program.
Though Burleson-Williams graduated this past July, the two agree that their relationship will continue.
“My experience mentoring Danielle was more than I ever imagined. The bond and relationship that we developed will last forever,” Burleson-Williams said. “I cherish every memory that we made and I will always be available for her.”
To learn more about the Odyssey Peer Mentor Program, visit: https://peermentoring.kennesaw.edu/index.php.
– Robert S. Godlewski
Photos by David Caselli
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the second-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 126 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.