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  • Sydney Umstead

Application open for research participants

Sydney Umstead, News Editor

A student at Canisius is currently searching for research participants for their thesis, aimed toward those with peer mentorship programs at predominantly white institutions (PWIs). 

Maryrose Alajo’s thesis is set to discuss “understanding and enhancing the academic success of underrepresented students at predominantly white institutions,” as per the flier for the applications featured on Today @ Canisius. 

Applications are open, and there is a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card for those who contribute. 

Alajo is looking for applicants who have “perceptions and experiences with peer mentorship programs at PWIs.” This involves “understanding their expectations, the effectiveness of mentorship, barriers they face, cultural competency within programs, impact on success, student outcomes and suggestions for improvement.” She stated that a goal of this project is to “gain a comprehensive understanding of how peer mentorship programs can best support students in navigating academic, social and cultural challenges at PWIs, ultimately enhancing their overall college experience and success.” 

The decision to cooperate with the student body comes from a desire for “a multifaceted approach to research, enriching my investigation in ways that traditional methods cannot match.” She continued with the statement that “building relationships with Canisius students provides invaluable context, helping me to grasp the social, cultural and institutional nuances relevant to my research.” By directly collaborating with peers, Alajo discussed how she is able to “not only gain valuable insights but also contribute to the broader Canisius community.”

Mentorship programs aim to “provide support and guidance to students across various aspects of their college experience, not just academics,” said Alajo. While academia is a “core component,” it is not the only factor in being a mentor: she stated, “Mentors can offer valuable insights and advice on extracurricular activities, internships, networking opportunities, and life skills that contribute to a well-rounded college experience.” 

Alajo cited her own experience with “both sides of the mentorship dynamic.” She noted that some former mentees will discuss the “effectiveness of peer mentorship, while others expressed skepticism, pointing to examples of peers who struggled academically.” 

When Alajo was asked about why she chose this topic for her thesis, she discussed how her own experience has allowed her to connect with mentees. She said, “As I reflected on these experiences, I began to notice disparities among my peers, with some not graduating alongside their white counterparts or even leaving the institution altogether.” 

As for the experience thus far, Alajo has stated that her favorite part has been “meeting the students and getting to know them, understanding their views on peer mentorship, and observing how it affects their academic success, social life, and sense of belonging.” She went on to say, “What I've learned is that students are eager to succeed, yet they may lack the best resources or ideas on how to find and utilize them.” 

Alajo concluded, “It appears that the mentorship at Canisius has had a positive impact on students, from learning about study strategies to providing emotional support by checking up on them.” But Alajo also touched on how “there is always room for improvement, especially with our student body expanding to include more students from diverse backgrounds.”

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