A New Opportunity for ALANA Students

By Adrianna Lamonge

There is a new mentoring-work experience program for incoming ALANA (African-American/Black; Latino/Latina/Hispanic/Asian/Pacific Islander; Native American/Indian) students at Youngstown State University.

The program is called the Navarro Executive Fellows, in honor of Shorty and Elba Navarro of Boardman, who recently donated $1 million to YSU to be used to fund scholarships and increase the number of campus jobs available for students.

The program has been developed to mentor students through employment by various executive leaders on campus, one of which will be Provost Martin Abraham.

“I will have a fellow working for me, as will most of the leadership in the academic division, so the deans will have a fellow as well,” Abraham said. “I think it’s a huge opportunity; all of the data shows that students who are engaged on campus are more likely to be successful.”

Sylvia Imler, chief diversity officer and executive director of the Division of Multicultural Affairs, has worked with YSU President Jim Tressel to establish the program. According to Imler, executives will interview prospective students, and a job description will be generated based on the needs of the executive and the interests of the fellow.

There are over 230 ALANA students who are eligible for the 17 open positions on campus. In order to be eligible, students must be incoming freshmen with no previous college credits and hold a minimum high school GPA of 2.5 or higher. Students cannot have a full-time job and can work up to 15 hours a week on campus.

Imler stated that she hopes the number of open positions will grow with funding and awareness of the program.

“By the time the student is a junior, they should have the skills to go on independently,” Imler said. “It would be nice if it was a four-year program, but right now as far as funding, that is not possible.”

Once matched, students will work with their mentors for a period of two years during the fall and spring semesters, executing tasks that are custom designed for the needs of the executive and the interest of the student.

According to Imler, at the end of the two-year period, the mentor and student will each be asked to evaluate their experience as a way to encourage growth and reflection.

“The executive will evaluate the fellow, and the fellow will do a self-evaluation,” Imler said. “They will look at what they’ve gained personally, and they will assess the program to provide insight on the program’s effectiveness.”

According to Imler, students who complete the program will also be able to provide guidance and support during their junior and senior years to the incoming freshmen who become fellows in the program.

Students interested in becoming a Navarro Executive Fellow should contact the Division of Multicultural Affairs at 330-941-3370.