Faculty Fellows highlight connection amid pandemic


Mitchell Allred

NMSU Faculty Fellows aid student development with one-on-one mentorship.

New Mexico State University students living on campus have the opportunity to work one-on-one with faculty through the Faculty Fellow Program.  

The program has been run for several years under the Living Learning Communities in first-year housing. Due to Covid-19, a one-on-one approach has been taken to encourage faculty and student mentorships.  

Michelle Bernstein, the Associate Director of Residential Education in the Housing and Residential Life Department, said the change brings opportunities to all on-campus students and faculty.  

“It’s very fulfilling. It’s a really nice experience just get to have an inter-generational relationship with somebody and that you’re truly making a difference in each other,” Bernstein said.  

Faculty Fellows are paired with students through a survey. The students are then paired in small groups with similar interests. They will continue to stay in these groups for the remainder of the year.   

The program is strictly volunteer-based. However, the program does require faculty to put in 25 hours per semester and in return, faculty receive a $1500 stipend per academic year according to the NMSU Faculty Fellows page. Professors can also be nominated through a link on the Housing and Residential life website. The faculty member does not have to live on campus to be a fellow.  

Winnie Lee, a professor in the College of Business, said her favorite part of the experience is meeting with student residents and resident assistance at different housing events.  

“They are great groups of people with positive energy driving the events to success,” Lee said.  

However, due to the pandemic, meeting with students in person became a challenge.  

Housing and Residential Life turned to a one-on-one faculty model in the spring of 2021. The current groups contain 4 to 5 members and a mentor. Mentors have the option to communicate and meet with the mentees throughout the semester, according to each group’s comfort level.  

“It’s to help students be successful and feel connected and feel like they’re part of our Aggie community,” Bernstein said.  

Lee often uses regular once-a-week updates to be able to chat and greet her mentees.  

“The friendship and mutual trust built up through time, which will warm students’ campus life and enrich their academic experiences, Lee said.   

The mentee groups include people from first-year housing apartments and family housing. Bernstein mentioned this is just an excellent opportunity for all on-campus students.  

“You don’t always get to have one-on-one relationships with faculty. Those can be excellent when your job searching, grad school searching or just looking for the next step in your development,” Bernstein said. “Having a faculty member who can give you a close connection could be very beneficial.”  

In the future, Bernstein said they might switch back to a hybrid model consisting of the one-on-one model and the previous program biased model.  

Students can apply through a link to the online application. Bernstein urges students to commit to responding to the faculty fellow.  

“[It’s a] two-way street. Faculty really want to be a part of it and get something out of it too,” Bernstein said.  

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