Student profile: Chelsey Lewington – PASS Mentee, Mentor and Student Organiser
As part of our Peer Assisted Study Support (PASS) scheme spotlight, part of the wider student services spotlight series, Chelsey Lewington shares her experience of being both a PASS mentee and mentor, as well as student organiser and what these roles entail.
Please can you give us a brief overview of your roles on the PASS scheme?
In my first year I was a mentee, in my second year I was a mentor, and now that I’m in my third year I’m a student organiser for PASS within my department.
When you were a mentee what kinds of things did the scheme help you with?
One thing I remember, which is done annually, is the “first essay” workshop which was a real help for me in adjusting to university. The PASS scheme helped mentees out with essays and with adjusting to the differences in academic life, compared to school or college. My course is completely coursework based, so in preparation for the first essay submission, the PASS mentors held a workshop to talk the mentees through the process of writing essays at university. This workshop made me personally feel much more prepared for later coursework within my degree.
Can you talk about how you help other students with their problems now that you’re a mentor?
Well, sometimes we have specific workshops in place with a predetermined theme, but sometimes the mentees will come to us with requests for help, so it depends on the week really. We always run the “first essay” workshop, which I actually organised and ran myself this year. We choose to run this every year because we find it’s quite a helpful session with more people now coming straight from schools into university, rather than having been to college in between, which is a little bit more transitional.
It really does depend on whether it’s a pre-planned session or a drop-in session, although one of the themes we often find is that people struggle with the differences in writing between school and university. Last year some of my mentees had many questions around referencing so that was something that I helped people with a lot.
Do you think that your experience as a mentee makes you more effective as a mentor?
I think so! At the end of the day if you’ve been a mentee as well, you can empathise with your own mentee. That really helps with communication and knowing how your mentee might want to be spoken to. Sometimes when you ask for help people can be quite patronising, and it’s much easier to avoid if you can put yourself in their place. You can apply your own experiences and feelings as a mentee to your style of mentoring – that’s the biggest benefit, just being able to empathise and communicate better.
With PASS it can be difficult to find a good middle ground with students, because as a mentor you’re neither their teacher nor their friend. Having been a mentee myself, I can draw on things my mentor did well and things I could improve on. I try to be helpful but still relatable.
Do you have any other insights you might want to share?
I remember we had a meeting with other PASS mentors within the scheme and one thing everyone echoed is that mentoring is a two-way street – mentors learn almost as much from their mentees as they teach them. It’s also really nice when you bump into someone around campus that you’ve mentored and they recognise you and thank you for your help. I always really appreciate it, and it’s a nice reminder that people really do benefit from the service.