Science mentoring program smoothens transition to campus life

The transition from high school to university is rarely an easy one, but the process was a whole lot smoother for Joanne Yu thanks to some upper-year students who always had her back.

“There was always someone there who I could ask questions and get good answers,” said Yu, who is just wrapping up her first year in chemistry.

A Vincent Massey Secondary School graduate, Yu signed up last fall for the new MySci mentoring program, which pairs first-year students with upper year students to help them adjust to life in the Faculty of Science.

More than just a tutoring program, mentors are there to help their charges with everything from time management and course selection to guidance and emotional support.

“It was meant to be sort of like a Big Brothers-Big Sisters kind of an organization,” explained Jackson McAiney, a third-year biochemistry student, who along with Sarah Hanik, a master’s student in kinesiology who earned her undergraduate degree in science, oversees the 60 mentors who signed up to volunteer for the program.

Yu was mentored by Phil De Luna, a fourth-year chemistry student.

“He showed me some great places to study, and even took me to the Green Bean café, which was really nice,” she said.

Kirsten Poling, a science teaching and learning specialist who oversees the program, said many of the 80 mentees who signed up for it ended up becoming close friends with their mentors.

“A lot of the mentors who signed up to volunteer said they did it just because they wish they had something like this in their first year,” Dr. Poling added.

Hanik said her and McAiney recruited mentors during Welcome Week last fall and will be doing the same thing again this year. Anyone interested in getting involved with the program should send an e-mail to

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