“What we want to do is help them make a successful transition into the professional world,” said LAA president Josh Flores, himself a past LSU member at UT and now a Spanish teacher at Waite High School. “What better way to help—whether it’s developing a resume, interviewing skills, or job hunting. It can be those things or just giving a true professional perspective of what it’s like to be in the field.
“They have been working all year to put this mentorship program together,” said Jacob Torres, LSU president. “They’re offering to help us create our own professional persona. To me, this is a huge opportunity for us. I always need something like this. I already use LAA a lot for guidance, since they have a lot of connections in the community.”
LSU has its own mentorship program Primos for first-year Latino college students, pairing them with an upperclassman to help them adjust to campus life. Under the pilot project, those Primos mentors would become the mentees, paired with a UT alumnus.
LAA leaders presented the idea at a recent LSU meeting on March 10, 2014, which prompted nearly 20 Latino UT students to sign up right away. LAA mentors are coming from a diverse array of professions, including education, government, finance, business, nonprofit, pharmacy, and local entrepreneurs. The alumni affiliate hopes to further expand what already seems to be a broad cross-section of professional talent.
“This is the first program of its kind by any alumni affiliate, so we’re kind of trailblazing a bit, really excited about it,” said Flores. “Now we’re ready to move forward and got a really great response.”
So far 15 mentors have agreed to reach out to their UT student partner at least once each month. The LAA president stated the alumni group meets on Saturday mornings, which may not be conducive for some potential mentors, due to family or professional obligations. So the group intends to hold recruitment and signups at other alumni events.
“We hope to branch out and increase that number. Really the sky’s the limit,” Flores said. “This round is just a pilot. Most of the alumni affiliate members were also part of LSU. What better place to start than there? Depending on the success and feasibility of our mentors, we want to see if we can branch out to the campus as a whole.”
Professional mentors will be paired up with a Latino UT student based on their college major and/or potential career. Flores stated, for example, that he will be immediately paired with a Spanish education major. Each mentor will tailor their efforts to meet the individual needs of that student.
“The needs of a graduating senior will be much different from that of an incoming junior,” explained the LAA president. “They may be quickly headed right into the real world. It’s a great networking tool.”