North Park University
ACI Peer Mentoring Program
Rachel Abraham finished her first year of college this spring at North Park University, Chicago. Abraham, from Skokie, Illinois, chose to attend the university after speaking with a cousin who was also a North Park student. She told her that the small classes and opportunities to interact with professors were good reasons to attend. Abraham is the second in her family to attend college.
“I knew I wanted to be in a medical field,” Abraham said, but she wasn’t certain what profession to choose. After trying pharmacy classes and others, she eventually decided on a nursing major, one of the school’s top majors. Abraham hopes to work as a pediatrics or obstetrics nurse, she says.
After attending the university’s Compass program for first-year students, Abraham said she gained confidence, learning about the university and the college environment. She also became a mentee in ACI’s Peer Mentoring Program at North Park.
“I had a really good connection with my mentor who graduated in December,” she said. “We still have a good connection, we reach out to each other outside of school.” Abraham says her mentor helped connect her with resources and people, and helped her resolve an issue in one of her classes. “I asked for her opinion. I didn’t really know what to do and how should I take on this problem,” she says. “First, she told me to calm down because I was a little overwhelmed. She’s said ‘go see your advisor. Tell her I sent you. Tell her the issue, and she’ll give you a response.’ She did, and it all worked out. It was really good.”
Looking back on her first year, Abraham says the Peer Mentoring Program gave her “balance.” “There’s always going to be a teacher and a counselor and advisor. When you have a mentor, they have all the information for you, especially if you can relate with your major. It’s a really good connection to make,” she says. In addition, as a commuter, Abraham says the Compass program and the Peer Mentoring Program helped her to meet and know people at school, something she might not have done otherwise.
Abraham adds that she is grateful for donors who contribute to the Peer Mentoring Program because the support “can have a really big impact.”
ACI Peer Mentoring Program
Chandler Claudé graduated this spring with a degree in accounting from Monmouth College, Monmouth, Illinois. A first-generation college student who became an ACI peer mentor, Claudé grew up on Chicago’s South Side.
“I didn’t know many college graduates in my area,” he says. “Finding mentors was hard.” His family was poor, and his mother worked three jobs to help him stay in a private high school. Although Claudé wasn’t the strongest student in high school, he wanted to get a college degree to pay his mother back for her sacrifices.
At Monmouth College, Claudé says he “faced many struggles not fully understanding simple things like emotional intelligence, how to write an email to a professor, or develop effective time management skills.” A few months into freshman year, Claudé found a mentor, someone who truly understood the challenges he faced as a first-generation student. “We did homework together a lot,” Claudé. “He would text me to tell me to come to the library and get a study session in. My first semester I was able to get a 3.3, and I remember I was on Cloud 9. The hard work and accountability my newfound mentor gave me really started this.”
The experience prompted him to become an ACI peer mentor. “I have learned so much about life and school, and I felt that I needed to pass it on to another first-gen student,” he says. “I wanted to be a cheerleader for someone because that’s what I needed during my freshman year: having someone hold me accountable for study and goals was important.”
Claude’ appreciates the commitment of ACI donors who give to the organization and its student-focused programs. “This is a great investment because you are creating a family away from home and giving them meaningful resources to succeed through the tough college adjustment,” he adds.