Graduation Date

5-2013

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy

Department or Program

Occupational Therapy

Department or Program Chair

Ruth Ramsey, Ed.D., OTR/L

First Reader

Stacy Frauwirth, MS, OTR/L

Abstract

Attending college is a major milestone in the lives of students. The transition to college can be a challenging process for new students, particularly first-generation students, impacting their ability to meet the more rigorous academic demands and to integrate socially into the campus community (Prospero & Vohra-Gupta, 2007; Ramos-Sanchez & Nichols, 2007). To ease the transition to college, peer mentoring programs can assist new college students by offering guidance, one-on-one and group sessions, providing information about campus life and resources, and referring them to support services (Ferrari, 2004; Lennox & Leonard, 2007). The project developers collaborated with Dominican University of California to create a peer mentoring program geared specifically for its first-generation student population called Bridging the Gap for First-Generation Students or BG4FGS. We used an occupational therapy lens to help these students succeed in college by addressing areas including academic performance, social participation, occupational balance, stress management, time management, and college finances. The first outcome of this project was the development of a peer mentor training manual. Mentors received their manuals during the training program in mid-August 2012. The second outcome was the creation of group modules that were implemented during one-hour monthly sessions with the mentors and mentees in September, October, and November 2012. Overall, the mentors reported that the training program and manuals were effective in helping them understand the objectives of BG4FGS and adequately prepare them for their roles. This project has demonstrated that occupational therapy plays a vital role in consultation and training to prepare peer mentors for implementing an effective peer mentoring program, in which first-generation students at Dominican University can benefit from.

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