On this page:
COPA stands for:
Cultural competency and connectedness
Opportunities for engagement
Positive identity development
COPA Mentoring at Wright University is an initiative to provide Latino students with a path to higher education and create a community where students can succeed academically and have the support needed to achieve their goals.
COPA Mentoring has two main components:
- Recruitment: Identifying and supporting high school juniors and seniors and students attending local community colleges.
- Retention: Supporting Latino students at Wright State throughout their university careers and help realize their goals beyond graduation.
College and community professionals, upperclassmen, and graduate students will serve as mentors and, with the support and structure provided by the Latino Center, guide mentees toward effective time management, goal setting, networking, and general encouragement and support.
With COPA Mentoring, Latino students will be able to not only become high achieving scholars, but also develop their own identities, be fully engaged in college life, build meaningful relationships, and become leaders in their communities.
Mentoring is all about building bridges. By providing a structured mentoring program to Latino students, we help them build bridges to connect them to systems, institutions, and networks of people that they have historically and structurally been marginalized from. We will also be able to address areas of intersectionality that compound these issues for Latina women, Afro-Latino students as well as educate our community on issues related to LGBTQ Latinos.
Navigating a Complex System
According to the Excelencia in Education article of Latinos in Higher Education, Latinos are much more likely to be first-generation college students than other racial/ethnic groups. Latinos are less likely to pursue STEM fields, less likely to apply for pell grants and other financial aid, and more likely to live at home while attending college. All of these factors illustrate a gap in access to information and services that other student groups are more likely to have access to.
Negotiating Language and Culture
It is essential to be aware of additional barriers Latinos and their families may encounter due to language and cultural differences. According to the same article, in 2017 only 60% of Latino adults had a high school diploma or less, and according to the PEW Research Center, close to 50% of adults 30 and older use mainly Spanish to communicate. The institutions and systems in the US are overwhelmingly designed for a monolingual and monocultural population which leaves the Latino students and their parents to figure things out on their own. Not only the parts of a complex system that are visible and transparent can be difficult to navigate, but there exists the iceberg underneath the surface of linguistic and cultural complexities that can further marginalize Latino students and their families.
By providing a mentor, the Latino Center is able to not only build bridges over these potential gaps but do it while supporting individual student needs and building lasting relationships. Many studies have shown the effectiveness of high-quality mentorship programs on both recruitment efforts and retention of students from underrepresented populations.
Building a Network
One critical aspect of a successful university experience is the ability to connect to a professional network. This can be difficult for immigrant families and Latino students who do not fit into the mainstream culture. This will address issues related to historical inequities and access to possibilities that have not been widely open to Latino students in the past.
The Wright State campus community will benefit by fostering and supporting a diverse student population. Latino students bring a rich variety of cultural and linguistic backgrounds and perspectives that will benefit and enrich the personal and professional experience of all faculty, staff, and students.
Mentors Benefit from Relationships
Mentors in our program will not only have the opportunity to build relationships with their Latino mentees and teach them how to navigate complex systems, but the mentors themselves will grow through the process. Mentors will get an opportunity to step into the student's shoes and see for themselves some of the challenges they face and the experiences that are potentially very different from their own.
Wright State Will Improve as an Institution and Campus Community
Latinos only make up a small portion of the students who enroll in Wright State University even though it is one of the fastest-growing college-age groups in the country. There is significant research that demonstrates the benefits of a more diverse student population. COPA Mentoring encourages recruitment to equalize enrollment opportunities for Latino students and promote diversity.
Currently, the graduation rate of Latino students only is 40%. COPA Mentoring will directly improve these results by supporting Latino students throughout their college careers, assisting them all the way to graduation and beyond. Latino student graduation rates will increase and therefore have a positive impact on the overall graduation rate for Wright State.
Furthermore, by bringing to light and then addressing some of the structural barriers that Latinos face on an organizational level, Wright Stat can update its environment and practices to be a more dynamic and inclusive institution.
Our mentees will have the opportunity to meet with assigned mentors (peer, graduate, or professional) on a regular basis, and participate in other programs, training, and activities. The mentee program will provide students with a trusted member of the community, faculty/staff, or an upperclassman to turn to for guidance on issues related to both academic and personal development, and to provide a means of knowing when a student needs assistance
What Makes a Good Mentee?
- Can think outside of the box
- Gets involved (student clubs, activities, volunteering, etc.)
- Sets goals
- Understands the need for help and support
- Develops Relationships
- Academically focused
Connecting our students to the right mentor will help them with their goals and will give them better opportunities to succeed.
What makes a Good Mentor?
- Cultural awareness
- Focused on goals and priorities
- Good listener
- Have the desire to help others
Types of Mentors
- Students who have completed their first year of college with a 2.5+ GPA
- Knowledgeable about campus
- Understand how to navigate college life
- Students enrolled in a graduate program
- Understand how to prepare for graduate school
- Assist in the search and application processes for graduate school
- A professional in the same field that the mentee chooses or is interested in
- Knowledgeable about career and job search after graduation
- Assist with preparing for and applying to jobs and internships
- Can be faculty or staff members
- Can be other members of the community
Types of Mentoring
- Distance (Zoom, email, text, phone calls, etc.)
- Person to Person (shadowing, office meetings, lunches, etc.)
- Group Mentoring (training sessions, activities, etc.)
Expectations for Our Mentors
COPA Mentors are academic role models and bridge builders for Latinos between high school, the university, and the community. They will meet with or speak to students in order to:
- Provide information, support, and encouragement
- Help mentees set short-term and long-term achievable goals based on the SMART goal system. SMART goals are made with the following criteria to make them clearer and easier to achieve:
- Specific: What will your goal focus on?
- Measurable: How will you know if you accomplished your goal?
- Achievable: Is it possible to achieve this goal in a timely manner?
- Relevant: Does this goal matter to you and does it fit with your long-term goals?
- Timely: When will you achieve this