Odyssey mentor program sets sail

Homer’s epic poem inspires the name of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s new mentorship program.

The Pioneer Involvement Center created a mentor program called “Odyssey.” Through the program, incoming freshmen students are assigned upperclassmen mentors to help them get more comfortable and involved on campus.

The Odyssey program has already started recruiting mentors, but will not officially begin until Fall 2016.

Val Wetzel, Assistant Director for the Pioneer Student Center, said she wanted to do this program for a number of years, but it was not until this year that the PIC was able to dedicate the time and energy into making the program a reality.

“Getting involved isn’t easy for many students. The Odyssey program is targeted for the ones that have a hard time reaching out,” Wetzel, who is advising the program, said.

Sophomore criminal justice major Tyler Hammil is in charge of organizing the program, and said he does not want to see the number of students who would like to participate in the program be limited.

“Right now it’s whoever is interested. We’ve really been trying to spread the word,” Hammil said. He also said they want to keep the mentor to mentee numbers small so that the mentees feel important and get the most out of the program.

Once Odyssey is established, Hammil said he would like to reach out to transfer students as well and hopes the program will be available to all incoming students.

Freshman psychology major Autumn Voegeli volunteers for Odyssey and said she thinks Odyssey is an incredible program starting on campus.

“As a first semester freshman this last fall, I would have loved to be in a program such as this to become more informed and involved with what was happening on campus,” Voegeli said. She also said she thinks giving incoming freshmen an opportunity to join a program, like Odyssey, will allow students to become more actively engaged on campus and be more likely to have an easier transition into campus life.

Odyssey will also allow freshmen to not only create a bond with upperclassmen, but also allow them to establish connections with other freshmen in the program who they can relate to on a more comfortable, casual and less intimidating level.

The name of the program comes from Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey. Wetzel said the meaning behind the word is “journey with another leader.” She also said the PIC hopes mentees will eventually want to give back and become mentors in the future.

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