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SBG Mentorship Program helps first-year law students

October 26, 2010

DETROIT (Oct. 26, 2010) – It isn’t easy to obtain a law degree. It’s challenging to balance classes, studies, work, on-campus involvement and a personal life. Throw in some competition with your peers and it can be downright daunting.

Fortunately, students and alumni have long lauded Wayne State University Law School’s friendly and supportive environment. So much so, in fact, that the Student Board of Governors (SBG) has made it a priority to ensure Wayne Law students continue to support one another through a new Mentorship Program.

Mentor/mentee pairs Tom Smith
Ryan Fishman, and Aisa
Villarosa and Bonnie Smith.

“We understand the anxiety that this environment can create,” said Michelle Ciaverilla, SBG secretary, who helped form the program this year. “We think it is important that students are getting the best experience possible at Wayne Law.”

“One of SBG's goals and charges is to continue to create a vibrant and supportive campus community,” added Eric Berg, a third-year student mentor and former member of SBG, who played a key role in establishing the program. “We have found that first-year students benefit from the support and advice of their fellow law students. The goal of this program is to ensure that each student who wants a support network has one. Empowering students to serve each other reinforces the culture we aim to build on campus. It also helps spur and reinforce a long tradition of involvement and service to Wayne Law as alumni.”

According to Tom Smith, SBG student council representative who helped organize the program, approximately 50 mentors already have been paired with about 80 mentees. Mentors have taken their mentees to lunch, shown them around campus, even called the Admissions Office on their behalf to help with orientation issues, Smith said.

Bonnie Smith is a first-year law student participating in the program. “I signed up to gain the perspective of an upper-level student on law school and other related pressures,” she said. “I hope to meet as many people as I can because I think law students need the support of not only their direct peers, but others who have already driven through this tornado that is law school.”

Bonnie’s mentor is SBG President Aisa Villarosa. “I feel very comfortable knowing that I can ask her anything and she won't laugh at me,” Bonnie said.

As a mentor, Ciaverilla personally met with her three mentees before orientation to let them know what to expect during that process, to get their schedules, talk about their professors, and give tips on the best way to succeed professionally and personally in law school. “I also talked about getting jobs after your first year, about the pros and cons of being involved in student organizations and journals, and a lot about what to expect on the ever-frightening exam,” Ciaverilla said.

First-year student Greg Kernasovsky is one of Ciaverilla’s mentees. “Michelle has been helpful and supportive in my law school endeavors thus far. She has provided insight and perspective on classes, professors, study habits and outlines,” he said. “This has helped alleviate some confusion, stress and pressure of dealing with the world of first-year coursework and general first-year anxieties.”

A mentorship kick-off event was held on Oct. 14 in Wayne Law’s newly renovated student lounge. SBG provided drinks, pizza and salad.

“The mentorship kick-off provided a fun, casual venue for the pairs to meet, while introducing the students to our new student lounge space,” Villarosa said. “The student lounge will hopefully be used as a meeting place for mentors and mentees in the future. ”

For more information on SBG’s Mentorship Program, contact Tom Smith at tsmith37@wayne.edu or Ciaverilla at mciaverilla@gmail.com.

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Wayne State University is a premier urban research university offering more than 400 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 32,000 students.

For more information about Wayne State University Law School, visit law.wayne.edu.

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