By Maya Butler | Reporter
Among the myriad of organizations on campus that serve both the Baylor and Waco communities, Pursue strives to contribute through mentorship.
Formed back in 2014, Pursue was created with the purpose of providing a role model to students at risk of failing academically, dropping out of school or experiencing behavioral issues.
Baylor students who join the organization are paired up with a middle school girl from Indian Spring Middle School and serve as their mentors. Members devote an hour a week getting to know their mentee by completing activities together that vary from arts & crafts to reading or journaling.
Temple junior Natalie Davis, vice president of Pursue, shared her reason for joining the organization.
“I decided to join Pursue because I wanted a way to be involved in the Waco community,” Davis said. “I wanted to pour into someone else’s life, and I enjoy mentorship. This was just a good outlet for me to do that.”
In addition to the weekly one-on-one interactions, the organization also hosts an end of semester party for all members and mentees. In the spring, members participate in “Mentee Day,” where the mentees spend time with their mentors outside of their classroom. Last year, Pursue members and their mentees ate pizza together in the SUB and visited the Mayborn Museum the year before.
Dr. Karen Melton, assistant professor of family and consumer sciences, serves as advisor to the organization.
“Pursue does several things to help ensure that the mentorship relationship is handled well, such as ensuring the commitment of that relationship over the course of that semester,” Melton said. “They also help Baylor students find some type of curriculum that is interesting to the mentee. It’s not just a one-size-fits-all mentorship program. They don’t just say, ‘here’s your book, go have fun with your mentee,’ they say, ‘find something that gets your student excited, so that you can help spark that relationship and spark excitement into that student’s life.’”
According to a 2014 study from mentoring.org, “more than three quarters (76 percent) of at risk young adults who had a mentor aspired to enroll in and graduate from college versus half (56 percent) of at risk young adults who had no mentor.”
To qualify as a member, students must pass a background check, hold a 2.5 G.P.A. or higher and complete a mandated online Child Protective Services training course in the event that they discover the presence of abuse in a mentee’s life.
Melton talked about the importance of maintaining a healthy balance in the relationship.
“We encourage students to have a relationship with their mentees, but doing that in an appropriate and healthy way,” she said. “It’s important to be a part of their life, but it’s important not to be too involved to where you become the drama in their life versus caring just about the drama that’s in their life.”
For the 2016-2017 school year,program awarded Pursue the Golden Apple Award for Career Awareness.
Austin senior Ezzy Racelis, Pursue’s president, acknowledged the impact the mentors have had on the mentees.
“In terms of how the mentees feel, I think having something consistent and positive in their life is rewarding in general because you can see slight changes in their demeanor,” Racelis said.
While Pursue currently mentors only girls at Indian Spring Middle School, Racelis revealed that they might consider extending the program to another local school, G.W. Carver Middle School.
“You kind of forget how life is like as a middle schooler,” Davis said. “It’s interesting to see life through their eyes again.”