Thompson Rivers University

Indigenous student mentors reflect on leadership roles

April 12, 2021

When it comes to navigating student life, a mentor can give you the scoop on supports, services and skill sets to ensure a more successful experience, especially in those early years of university.

Being a mentor can help you prepare for your professional pathway. As part of any student leadership program, training and learning opportunities can benefit your personal development. Helping others by sharing experiences and wisdom is also particularly good for the soul.

Indigenous Mentor and Community Co-ordinator Mathilda Chillihitzia says, “Mentoring and being mentored is a part of Indigenous life. Not only is it meaningful to pass down your knowledge, but it also feels meaningful to be taught by someone with such great knowledge. You can leave a lasting connection that will carry you beyond university.”

Chillihitzia, herself a graduate from TRU, loves working with students, particularly her team of student mentors. “I get to meet new people every semester and make lasting friendships. I understand what it’s like to come from a small community and feel scared of being so far away from family, so I love to help students reach their goals.”

Indigenous student mentors from past years share the impact this program had on their personal, educational and professional lives.

“TRU has become more of a home to me. Everyone has become a family, so I wanted to give back to the TRU community. I wanted others to feel welcomed and to enjoy the same experiences I had. I wanted my fellow peers to know that they are not alone. The opportunity gave me a new way of looking at life and those around me. It has opened up my circle to allow those around me to join in and better our lives.”
“Being the only Indigenous student in my undergraduate degree, I realized the importance of having support from other Indigenous people. I became actively involved with TRU School of Business and Economics and events at the Indigenous Gathering Place, so I immediately offered to mentor once the program was available. If I could help even a couple of students before leaving TRU, those students would be more likely to help others.”
“Being a mentor allowed me to give back and support other students to be successful in all they do.  I am so proud to be an Indigenous woman who participated in this program. As a mentor, we were able to empower other Indigenous students to become the best student they could be and so that they could make their dreams come true.”
“When I started university, my older sister had already been there for a year. She showed me around during my first week, pointing out the best places for food and good study spots. I realized later that not every new student would have guidance like that, so I became a mentor to become that person for someone else.”
“I became a mentor to help younger Indigenous students bridge a gap. When I was 18, I lived in a large city for the first time. This very rapid change overwhelmed me. I had friends, but I don’t remember having a mentor. If I could use some of my life experience to help another Indigenous student, I would. Seeing the academic success of Indigenous students gives me added hope for the future. I was raised in communities too small for a high school, so I especially enjoyed my time at TRU as a member of the Indigenous community.”

The Indigenous Mentor Program is supported by the Indigenous Mentor and Community Coordinator in Cplul’kw’ten. If you are interested in becoming a mentor, you can apply by downloading the Indigenous Mentor Program Application Form.

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