Students of Color Mentorship Program rebrands

Taylor McFarland, BG24 Executive Producer

As we approach the 25th anniversary of the SMART program, the Office of Residence Life plans to rebrand the retention initiative so that it can reach more students.

The SMART program is a mentorship that aids first-year students of color in their first year at BGSU. SMART stands for Students of color Mentoring, Aiding, Retaining and Teaching. The program fosters community among students of color to support them as they navigate BGSU campus.

There was speculation that the program was discontinued, but James Kearney, Coordinator for Diversity Initiatives, said the program was “dormant” due to limited staff.

“We didn’t have enough student engagement,” he said. “It was never discontinued. I don’t think it was presented in a way where people understood where the direction of it was going. It’s still here. It’s just named something different positionally if you look at the student staff positions, but if you look on our website, it’s still there. It never went away.”

The Office of Residence Life was looking to “expand the reach of SMART,” the Director of Residence Life Joshua Lawrie said. As a result, the SMART mentorship program merged with the APMs, or Academic Peer Mentors, to create the Resident Success Peer Mentorship program. Kearney said the goal of the integration of programs was to be more inclusive with mentors and students.

Joshua Moore, Graduate Coordinator for Diversity Education and Multicultural Student Retention, spent most of his undergraduate career being involved with SMART. Moore said he’s happy that the program is making a comeback ahead of its 25th anniversary.

“With it coming back, I know it’s going to be great and I hope to help in the process,” he said.

As the head of SMART, Kearney said the Office of Residence Life is looking to rebrand the program by providing more support for students. He said as time progresses, so does our student population and their needs. Kearney plans to make incorporate other facets of the identities of students of color, like sexuality and gender, into the program to better accommodate students.

He recently conducted staff interviews and plans to do another process because he wants to hire for SMART again.

“I’m excited to start that process again and get it out of that dormant stage because I know we still have people who would very much benefit from that program and who still want to see it be very much active and involved with things,” he said.

Kearney said he’s working with the marketing specialist to see how the positions can be promoted. He said that events like campus fest can be intimidating, especially for minoritized and marginalized populations, because they’re nervous. His SMART rebrand plan will involve actively seeking students through campus partners like the Office of Admissions and the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

Lawrie said he’s looking forward to SMART returning as a standalone program.

Joshua Moore, is happy that the program will be making a comeback ahead of its 25th year. When he first heard about the merge, he was kind of shocked, with it coming back I know it’s going to be great and hopes to help in the process.

“We feel it is time to have SMART focus back on the core mission of the program,” he said.