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Why mentor an ECE student?

“Unlike freshmen with parents, siblings, or cousins who have gone to college, first-generation students are largely learning the pressures of staying above water in school without experienced guidance from home. These students often are unaware of what’s known as the “hidden curriculum”—the mix of bureaucratic know-how and sound study skills that can make or break a student’s first year in college.” -Mikhail Zinshteyn, The Chronicle of Evidence Based Mentoring.

A recent study at Stanford University found that mentoring a first-generation student increases their likelihood to advance another year in college by 15%.

How to become an ECE Mentor: a 3-step guide



Read the FAQ and resource page to learn all the details about our program. When you are ready, fill out the inquiry form to begin the process!



A member of the ECE staff will reach out to you to schedule a preliminary meeting. This will be a chance to discuss your interests and hopes for the outcomes of the program and to answer any final questions you may have.


Meet & Greet

Meet your new mentee! The ECE staff will join your first meeting to make introductions. After that, you and your mentee will take over. The ECE staff is always available for all mentors and mentees to help with the process.

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What makes ECE mentors effective?

ECE has found that the obstacles that prevent our students from attending class and staying in school are rarely academic, as they are all high achievers. Rather, our scholars often face emotional, social, or financial issues. Additionally, as nearly all of our students are first-generation college attendees, they often lack the professional guidance and advice that many other college students receive from older family members and friends.

ECE cannot help our students resolve difficult or challenging situations if we don’t know they exist – this is where the mentor comes in. By creating a relationship built on professional growth, trust, and friendship, ECE mentors can act as life coaches for our scholars.

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Building a Relationship

A typical Mentor-Mentee relationship could consist of breakfast and lunch meetings, tutoring, time-management and goal setting, acting as a reference, networking and internship/job advice, resume and cover letter writing, encouragement and tips on social and personal growth goals, and general unwavering encouragement and support.

The extra layer of trust and communication can also help the mentor detect warning signs of potential problems earlier than the ECE staff. Often, the mentor can be crucial in helping ECE step in to manage larger issues that help keep our students in school and on the path to success.

ECE Mentor FAQ

ECE scholars are high-achieving, first-generation college students in Tennessee. These scholars applied and made it through a rigorous selection process to be awarded a $25,000, four-year college scholarship. The scholars are ambitious and dedicated to achieving their academic and career goals. Although they attend classes in person, the scholars live at home with their families and commute to campus.

In Tennessee, undocumented citizens or recipients of DACA are denied equitable access to higher education because they do not qualify for financial aid (FASFA) or student loans, the result being that they must pay out-of-state tuition rates. ECE helps its students afford college by establishing partnerships with schools across the state who agree to charge a rate close to in-state tuition. ECE aids the students even more by offering further scholarship money and a robust set of programs aimed to support them through the collegiate experience.

The ECE mentor acts as a trusted confidante and advisor who can provide support, guidance, and friendship in a variety of different areas of the mentee’s life and journey through college and into the workforce.

The ECE staff will consider your interests and goals with the interests and goals of the students. The ideal pair would be a mentor who has experience and knowledge in the same line of work that the mentee wishes to pursue, although ECE is most focused on creating successful relationships.

ECE requires that the pair schedule 4 meetings a year at minimum, but there is no maximum. Regular check-ins by text, email, or phone are encouraged between meetings. ECE expects that meetings will continue until the student has graduated, at which point the mentor program concludes officially and any future meetings are completely optional.

ECE scholars are college-aged (18-23).

Get to know them in the way that is most natural for you. Over time, you can ask about their families, hobbies, interests, ambitions, and concerns. The key is to provide an inviting opportunity for them to open up to you.

You should discuss this in your first meeting so you can plan accordingly. Each student is different, but it is very common for scholars to work 30-40 hours a week on top of their academic commitments. Additionally, many will have familial obligations because they live at home with their families.

You can expect that evenings and school vacations will be the easiest times to schedule meetings. Each student will be different, so communication is important. ECE encourages our mentors to be patient, flexible, adaptable and consistent – scheduling can be a challenge because of the scholars’ obligations, but remaining dependable will result in a trusting relationship.

Sharing the Experience

Mentee Testimony

Mentor Testimony

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