For many first-year students, transitioning to college life can be confusing and difficult, but most have pieced together the ins and outs of campus life by senior year and are ready to help out floundering freshmen. Student organization Cane Buddy was founded two years ago to foster a mentorship system between upperclassmen and new students.
When Folashade Akinola was accepted to the University of Miami for the 2016-17 academic year, she was worried about the basics – making friends and handling the workload – so she applied to be a mentee, along with 222 other students.
“I didn’t know anyone in Miami, I didn’t know much about the university and thought it was good there would be someone here to help me get used to the college lifestyle and to hear advice from upperclassmen,” Akinola said.
The overwhelming response caught Cane Buddy leadership off-guard – they only had 45 mentors and 75 open spaces for mentees.
Through the program, Akinola, an Atlanta native, was paired with senior Massiel Leiva.
“This changed my whole experience here for the better,” Akinola said. “I got involved and met a lot of people.”
Cane Buddy requires the mentors to reach out to their mentee by text once a week and meet at least once every two weeks. Leiva and Akinola formed such a strong friendship that the pair still see each other even though Akinola “graduated” as a mentee in fall 2016.
“Having that safety net and having a person just there for you is what can push you to excel and push you out of your comfort zone and make you feel like you are not alone,” Leiva said. “Even though our campus of 10,000 is small, it can feel really big at times and you can get lost in it as a freshman.”
Akinola hopes to become a mentor for the fall 2017 semester, following in Leiva’s footsteps.
“This is your chance to help someone else,” Leiva said. “To have a great experience and fall in love with this place and be the best version of themselves.”
Correction: An earlier edition stated that the deadline for mentees is due at March 26. It is by the end of summer.