More Than a Student Mentor
By Jada Lucas
The bonds Laci Vickery formed with her mentees started over smores at a bonfire, but they evolved into lasting relationships. She saw how the students both young and old could connect with each other, and those possible connections inspired her. Vickery is a nursing student at Indiana Wesleyan, and she serves as a Residential Assistant for Upward Bound.
A Residential Assistant, or RA is a person on a university campus that ensures students of their assigned floor are comfortable while away. Upward Bound is a program for first-generation students and high school students; it prepares them for college. Although the focus of the program is to mentor students academically, Vickery has taken it a step further by providing a personal support system.
Vickery expressed an interest in mentoring during her years in high school. She recalled how helpful mentors were for her. She said, “I really appreciated the relationships that were formed.” She was a first-generation student as well, so she felt that she would be able to relate with the students in this program. She said that she wanted to give her students the same experience that she had with her own mentors.
Vickery spends the day taking the students out to various activities like kickboxing, painting, and making soaps. She tutors them for their daily classes. However, aside from these tasks, she has made sure that she is a listening ear for her students. In fact, she lovingly refers to them as “my kids.” At night, she stays up late just in case any of her students need to talk to her about any concerns or issues they may be having. She recalled one late night where one of her students came to her wanting to talk about some issues at home. Vickery said, “Even though I can't fix the problem, I'm there to support her anyway she needs.”
Vickery expressed that she wants to continue to work with this program. Although there are scheduling conflictions due to her academic obligations, she is determined to make a way to be a part of the program next summer. Vickery also plans to maintain these relationships after the summer. However, these relationships have not only been beneficial for the students, but they have also benefitted her. She has become inspired by these kids. She says, “They are very encouraging, no matter what they are going through they fight through it. They're still in their classes getting their work done. Persevering. It's inspiring.”