HP Student Peer Mentors Welcome First-Gen Students to Saint Mary’s

High Potential Peer Mentors (from top left): Chris Gutierrez ’23, Arturo Fernandez ’23, Frida Garcia ’22, Daisy Guzman ’22, Synclaire Lee ’22, Carolina Celis ’22, Ashley Hernandez ’23, Anahi Torres ’22     When Allied Health Science major Frida Garcia ’22 joined the High Potential Program as a first-year student, she was one of the only STEM students in the program. “I recognized that need and wanted to be that support for first-generation STEM students because that’s a struggle in and of itself. My Peer Mentor worked really hard to give me that support and confidence in myself so I just wanted to do the same for other students in STEM and other first-gen students in general.” Garcia became a Peer Mentor in 2019, and started her third year as a Peer Mentor this summer.

The High Potential (HP) Program/TRIO Student Support Services Peer Mentors are a group of dedicated student leaders who work hard year after year to welcome first-generation and low-income students to campus. Each year, incoming HP students are matched with a Peer Mentor who provides academic, personal, and professional support to help students achieve their full potential at Saint Mary’s. This past August, High Potential (HP) Program/TRIO Student Support Services Peer Mentors and Staff led the Summer Academic Institute for Leaders and Scholars (SAILS), a comprehensive program where incoming HP students meet faculty and learn about campus resources.

“We want to give our first-year students a crash course on Saint Mary’s and the academic expectations that come with being in college because it is a huge transition,” said HP Peer Mentor and Allied Health Science major Frida Garcia ’22. “As Peer Mentors, [our role] is to provide guidance and support to the students as they begin to navigate that transition—validating their emotions, giving them tips and tricks of the ins and outs of Saint Mary’s, reminding them that they worked so hard to be here—and build that confidence in themselves.”

Jose Miranda ’25, a first-year student from San Jose, joined HP after he discovered the program through his high school counselor, and participated in SAILS this summer. “SAILS was overall an amazing experience. I got to learn more about what the HP Program has to offer and the resources that are available to me here at Saint Mary’s. By participating, it allowed me to be more comfortable and confident upon my transition from high school to College, so I’m thankful to the SAILS program for that.”

“The HP Peer Mentors and staff have been very supportive with any assistance I needed, not just school-related,” said Miranda. Any help that I’ve needed—I’ve been comfortable and confident to reach out to them. They always provided me with detailed and caring responses that make me feel welcome,” said Miranda, who plans to major in Sports Management. 

To learn more about the High Potential Program and SAILS, click here.