Building Bridges Mentoring Program
The Building Bridges Mentoring Program matches historically underrepresented first-year students with faculty from the departments that the students wish to explore as possible majors. The program is based on the works of three major theorists, Vincent Tinto (1993) and Ernest Pascarella & Patrick Terenzini (1978) who believe that educational communities and academic engagement with faculty are central to having a positive college experience. In practice, Building Bridges continues the research of Terrell Strayhorn and Melvin Terrell (2007) which concludes that academically focused relationships are superior to informal personal mentoring in terms of students’ satisfaction with college.
The primary goals of the program are to help students develop skills to communicate effectively with faculty and to assist students with their discernment of a major. To meet these goals, students schedule monthly meetings with their faculty mentors. Through these meetings, faculty and students work in tandem to explore opportunities designed to give students experiences that will help them make informed decisions.
“Make good use of today. In fact, make the best use of it. Time will not wait, and this day — as all of life — will pass.”
Blessed Basil Moreau, CSC.
In the spring of 2019, Greg Serapio-Garcia received the news that the Gates-Cambridge Scholarship Program offered to fund his PhD work in psychology. His mentor, Daniel Lapsley, the ACE Collegiate Professor in the Department of Psychology, had this to say: “Watching Greg’s formation as a person and scholar over the last four years has been immensely gratifying, and we are all so proud of his earning the prestigious scholarship to Cambridge University.” During his time at the University, Greg embarked on four separate research projects with three Notre Dame professors and secured over $30,000 in research grants. He is the first Building Bridges student to receive the Gates-Cambridge Scholarship.
Initially, Greg found Notre Dame’s campus to be daunting. “One of my greatest fears coming to Notre Dame was how I would fit in and thrive academically and socially.” Building Bridges immediately allayed his concerns. “Meeting with Prof. Lapsley for the first time, I felt more welcomed, accepted, and cherished. He worked with me on my very first research grant proposal and it demonstrated how deeply invested he was in my success. I am profoundly grateful for his mentorship, teaching, and friendship over these many years.”
During a moment of reflection, Prof. Lapsley added, “Every so often there comes along a student who reminds you what a privilege it is to be a professor at the University of Notre Dame. Meeting Greg has been transformative for me in my vocation as a professor, and I’m grateful to Building Bridges for connecting us.”