The UHP Welcome Experience gives incoming first year students the opportunity to connect, build community, engage and learn more about UHP during their first few months here at UC. This year I applied to be a mentor for the Welcome Experience. Besides it being a pre-approved honors experience, it was an opportunity for me to leave my introverted comfort zone and meet new people, and help them learn about the university, the honors program, and help with their transition to the UC community.
This was not my first time mentoring incoming students and helping them with the transition. Every year there is a large group of potential Indian international students, and current students (also Indian international) volunteer to be a resource to them by answering questions, scheduling meetups, and give a tour of the campus. When I was an incoming freshman, I received great help from my seniors. I would have faced a lot of difficulty throughout the transition if this program did not exist. This has led me to volunteering for this every year.
Through the UHP Welcome Experience program, I found an opportunity to yet again serve the next generation of students as a mentor. I got to not only share my knowledge of UC and Cincinnati, but also of the University Honors Program and community. I got to connect with more UHP members, especially with my partner Mia, our co-ordinator Ashley, and ofcourse, our faculty leader Bria. Even in my 4th year at UC, I was pleasently surprised to see that UHP always has something more to offer.
This experience also included some of my first face-to-face interactions with people after the pandemic hit and we were all forced to quarantine. While I have enjoyed my time in isolation away from forced social interactions, I also realized that real human connections are something I have been taking for granted.
Our first meetup with the mentee group involved a tour of the campus disguised as a scavenger hunt. Me and my partner Mia met our mentee group at the bearcat statue, provided them with UHP t-shirts, and started the scavenger hunt. It was quite a workout walking circled around the campus, but it was well worth the conversations and stories we shared. While the mentees did have some knowledge of the campus thanks to their orientations, they were very happy to learn some of the shortcuts and not-so-obvious paths to get from one place to another.
Our second meetup was a chill indoor meeting with cookies, and we talked about campus life, classes, organization involvement, social life etc. It was particularly rewarding to see the mentees applying some pieces of advice we gave them.
A big part of why software development is my passion is that I like creating something and watching it grow and impact lives. I think it is also why I have always wanted to play the role of a mentor, to help shape a person into someone who can go on and make a lot more impact than I can by myself. This experience has taught me that while being a mentor is difficult and requires courage and virtue, it is far more rewarding and fulfilling. I hope I keep getting opportunities like these in the future.