The University of Nottingham’s e-Mentoring scheme matches up current undergraduate students with young people who don’t have a strong background of higher education. The aim is to support young people with their transition to university by providing them with advice and guidance during their A Levels.
When Kirsty Meakin enrolled on the scheme as a mentee she was shy and lacking in confidence. Now she’s in the final year of her English degree at Nottingham, a mentor rather than mentee on the scheme and has been shortlisted for the Most Inspiring Mentee Journey award at Brightside’s online mentoring awards.
But it’s been a long journey from schoolgirl with hopes of going to university to undergraduate and award nominee.
Kirsty attended a school in Mansfield, which was in special measures for most of the time she was there. Plus, as the first person to go to university in her family, Kirsty’s parents weren’t always able to help.
And that’s where the University’s e-Mentoring scheme came in.
Kirsty said: “Although my parents were really supportive, they could not always give me specific help and guidance about going onto higher education. As a result of this, having an e-Mentor was brilliant for me.”
Kirsty’s mentor helped her with her personal statement and gave out financial and accommodation advice, as well as revision tips.
Kirsty is now a mentor to aspiring students like she was all those years ago. She said: “It’s been immensely rewarding to help people from similar backgrounds to myself on their journeys to higher education. I feel that being an e-Mentor has been my way of giving something back to the e-Mentoring scheme.
“I know that people from backgrounds underrepresented in higher education often have the ability to get to university, but lack the support and the confidence they need to get there."
Laura Bruce, from the University's Widening Participation team, is in charge of the e-mentoring scheme. She said: “I have nominated Kirsty for the Most Inspiring Mentee Journey award because her personal development throughout her four year involvement in mentoring has been truly inspiring to watch.
“When we first met her she was a very shy and nervous young person, who did not appear to have much self-confidence or self-belief. Nonetheless, she proved an extremely committed and dedicated mentee, who engaged throughout the 10 month programme. The most inspiring part of her journey, however, has been her personal development. Kirsty’s confidence and self-belief undoubtedly grew whilst she was a mentee but this has increased even more so since she has become a mentor herself.”
The Brightside online mentoring awards — organised by the Brightside Trust — are on Thursday 27 February in London.
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