Lukas Flippo, Photo Editor

The Yale College Council, Women’s Leadership Initiative and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Cooperative are teaming up to start the second year of a mentorship program, originally launched in 2019, that gives guidance to first years who do not identify as cis males. 

This year’s program, a successor to last year’s “Women and Gender Minority Year Long Mentorship Match Program” from the YCC and WLI, has brought on leadership from the Co-op.

“The LGBTQ+ Co-op has been a champion for equity and inclusion on campus, and so we felt strongly that this empowerment-centered program would benefit from their partnership and leadership,” YCC President and Mentorship Program Co-founder Aliesa Bahri ’22 said in an email to the News. “Their insight on how to ensure this program is even more inclusive of gender minorities, particularly, has been invaluable.” 

The goal of the program is to connect undergraduate students and help them feel more supported through mentor-mentee relationships. The mentees — who are primarily first years — will be paired with one or more mentors — made up of sophomores, juniors and seniors — after filling out a Google form. The form asks students about their academic and extracurricular interests, whether they’re on campus or remote and, for prospective mentees, if they have a preference for their mentor’s gender identity. Mentees will then be paired with mentors that the program feels best suits the mentees’ interests. 

Last year’s inaugural program, which had over 200 participants, was created with this same purpose in mind. The pairings help first years acclimate to life at Yale, WLI Co-president and Mentorship Program Co-founder Ananya Kachru ’22 said. 

“These yearlong pairings with mentors were focused on helping mentees navigate their first years at Yale (academics, extracurriculars, suitemates and friendships, and so much more), and empowering mentees as leaders in campus communities, too,” Kachru said in an email to the News. 

WLI’s Mentorship Initiative Director Adhya Sharma ’23, who worked closely with Bahri and Co-op President Adhya Beesam ’22 to organize this year’s program, noted the importance of this mentor-mentee relationship, especially due to the virtual nature of this semester. She also noted that she hopes participants “make connections that last beyond the academic year.”

Sharma emphasized the support these partnerships could provide when applying for internships. Often, she said, first years miss deadlines for internships or aren’t prepared for interviews properly, and this program, Sharma hopes, will eliminate those issues.

In addition to one-on-one pairings, the program will also offer the option of being grouped as a family. This family would be a cohort of three to four students from varying class years.

“There’s a few advantages to having a family,” Sharma said. “And I think the main one is the fact that it also lets sophomores be in a position where they’re sort of a mentee as well … Even though the program doesn’t allow me to be a mentee as such, if I’m put into a family with some seniors and some juniors, it would also be helpful.” 

Sharma also noted that the family cohort makes the program feel “more approachable” since it can be intimidating to be partnered one on one with someone. 

Sharma plans to bring all participants together virtually, where they’ll be able to do bonding activities. For example, she thought of using Glimpse, a “speed-meeting” platform, so that participants will be able to meet a lot of new people. Other ideas Sharma has for groups to do include activities like hiking at East Rock for on-campus groups or holding a Netflix party for virtual ones.

Bahri noted that, in her experience, her mentors and peers at Yale served as people she could turn to for support and hopes that this program provides first years with “older students they feel comfortable confiding in.” 

Sharma echoed this sentiment, explaining that the connections fostered between students with similar identities will give these mentees support they can trust and relate to.

“I’m a woman in STEM … Very often, there’s not a lot of other women in my [computer science] lectures and there’s not a lot of representation,” Sharma said. “It would be so nice to connect with other women who have been through all of these classes and who have struggled through the PSETs and the projects and who have applied to these internships in the past, and they can talk about their experiences … It would be nice to see other women going through the same things.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, the program had over 60 people signed up to participate and the application will close on Oct. 30.

Adam Levine | a.levine@yale.edu