Harper College

GLIDE program offers mentorships for first-year Harper students

Glide, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Black, Latinx, Mentor, Mentee, 2022

GLIDE, or Guiding Learners to Intentionally Develop Efficacy, is a yearlong mentorship program at Harper College for incoming Black and Latinx students.

When Natasha Desrosiers found out about GLIDE, Harper College’s first mentorship program for first-year students, she figured she’d give it a try.

So far, her experience as a mentee has been amazing, said Desrosiers, a first-year student from Hoffman Estates.

“I’ve gained a new friend” in my mentor, she said, “and it brought me an opportunity to meet new people, to excel academically and be able to see things from new perspectives.”

GLIDE, or Guiding Learners to Intentionally Develop Efficacy, is a yearlong mentorship program for incoming Black and Latinx students. The program launched in the fall and is supervised by Esmeralda Guerrero Lopez and Monica Shirley, coordinators for student diversity initiatives in the college’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

The program is aimed at addressing equity gaps experienced by Black and Latinx students, particularly in terms of lower retention and graduation rates, Guerrero Lopez said. Another major goal is to affirm the identity of, and ensure representation for, Black and Latinx students.

Harper College data shows that from 2016 to 2019, Black students’ graduation rate was 13.1%, Latinx student’s graduation rate was 27.8% and white students’ graduation rate was 34.9%.

However, surveys show that when students are engaged with campus organizations and feel connected to others at the college, they are more likely to stay on track academically and graduate, Guerrero Lopez said.

“We have already seen the impact that the GLIDE program has had, based on the feedback we got from the students,” she said.

Zahir Eduardo Nuñez Bermejo, a first-year student from Palatine who moved to the U.S. three years ago from Durango, Mexico, said the program made him immediately feel welcome at Harper, where he feels like he found a second home. He said it was especially beneficial to be paired with a mentor who understands what it feels like to be in his shoes, culturally and academically.

“It’s been a really great experience for me. I got to know a lot of people. They got me a little piece of what home really means and to appreciate my culture,” he said. “I have so much fun.”

GLIDE inspired Nuñez Bermejo to become a member of Latinos Unidos, and Desrosiers to take the role of president of the Black Student Union.

This year, GLIDE includes 40 mentees and 10 mentors, all of whom identify as Black and Latinx. Each mentor is assigned a group of mentees. Mentors and mentees meet weekly for about 30 minutes, either virtually, via phone or in person.

Once a month, participants attend varied workshops. This fall, topics included: financial aid, such as navigating the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Retention of Illinois Students & Equity (RISE) Act, which allows undocumented and transgender students to apply for state financial aid; financial literacy and investments; welling and destressing; strategies for test-taking; and more. There was also programming aligned with Latinx Heritage Month, Indigenous Peoples' Month and other celebrations.

Each semester, participants go on an excursion. In the fall, they traveled to Chicago to see the musical Wicked, preceded by a five-course Italian meal. “The idea is to expose students to experiences they typically might not have, and that are enriching,” Guerrero Lopez said.

Starting with the next cohort, the program plans to incorporate an optional monthly social event for participants.

Sarahy Ramirez Glide Mentor 2022-23Sarahy Ramirez (pictured, right), a second-year student from Palatine, said she wanted to participate in GLIDE as a mentor to ensure other students would have a positive experience in her first year, just like she did thanks to the support of friends, coworkers and Latinos Unidos.

Her goal was to be someone that her mentees could count on and reach out to when needed. Throughout the semester, she’s seen them become more confident, and she, too, has benefited by becoming a better communicator.

“I’m grateful to be part of this program and for the connections I’ve made with my mentees,” Ramirez said.

Friendships have blossomed among the program’s participants, Guerrero Lopez said.

“These relationships aren’t just one-sided, where the mentor is just providing that support for the mentee,” she said. “A lot of times you see that the mentor is also taking positive things from the mentee in those relationships they build.”

All incoming students at Harper College who identify as Black and Latinx, including biracial and multiracial, receive a letter with information about the GLIDE program, and a link to sign up. Starting in August, mentees will need to be registered for at least nine credit hours to be eligible. They earn a $500 stipend per semester.

Mentors earn a $700 stipend per semester. Those who want to sign up as mentors for next year’s program need to have attended Harper for at least a year, have a minimum 2.5 GPA, have a genuine interest in supporting Black and Latinx students, and demonstrate good interpersonal and communication skills.

An end-year assessment with feedback from participants might lead to additional changes for the 2023-24 program, Guerrero Lopez said. Anyone seeking more information can email Guerrero Lopez.

Last Updated: 3/14/24