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Mentor Tech Smooths the Path by Connecting Students with Faculty

Students find that leaning on adults helps them through tough times.

Written by Lori Cortez

Danielle Ivey with Judge Hatchett at the 2010 Mentor Tech banquet.

Danielle Ivey with Judge Hatchett at the 2010 Mentor Tech banquet.

What if someone told you to walk into a room full of people you didn’t know and sit down? You might feel a little apprehensive but the initial shock wears off. Now, if someone said move to a town with an estimated population of 225,000 people all of which you have never met and create a new life. Someone might quickly turn to their survival instincts, but others may want a knowledgeable friend and role model to show them the ropes.

Danielle Ivey, alumna of the College of Arts and Sciences, only applied to one college, and it was one she knew nothing about until two weeks before Thanksgiving break of her senior year in high school. Ivey took a weekend off and made her way to Lubbock for a tour of the university.

“When I came to visit I knew I was supposed to be here.” Ivey said. “Since I was in the top 5 percent of my graduating class I could go anywhere in Texas, and I chose Texas Tech.”

Before arriving to campus she received a letter in the mail asking her if she wanted to become a protégé in the Lauro Cavazos & Ophelia Powell-Malone Mentoring Program (Mentor Tech), housed in the Division of Institutional Diversity, Equity & Community Engagement. Not having any knowledge of the organization she believed joining the program was a good way to meet new people.

The first event Ivey attended, the protégé-mentor matching event, was also Mentor Tech’s inaugural event. Therefore, she has been in tune with the program since its beginning in 2002. Ivey said when she first met her mentor, Earnstein Dukes, she felt it was the moment she switched her mentality from a teenager to an adult.

“I realized in my mind, ‘Okay I am talking to an adult I don’t know. I need to be respectful, ask questions and start getting to know her,’” Ivey said.

In the beginning of their relationship, she said together they would attend plays, go to lunch and she even let her wash her clothes at her house free of charge. Ivey said Dukes was supportive and always had a way of bringing her down to earth.

“I had always been pretty much an A student in high school and when I got to college I found that subjects I thought I was strong in, like Chemistry, I began to struggle in. Earnstein let me know that everything would be okay. And when I failed and thought my world was over, she was there to remind me ‘you have to stick it out,’” Ivey said.

Isamar Marmolejo, a sophomore sociology major and protégé in Mentor Tech, said her mentor, Charlotte Bingham was one of the first people she met when she came to college. And as time progressed and their relationship grew, Bingham was one of the few people she could trust.

Marmolejo said Bingham pushed her to execute all her opportunities and promoted the study abroad program. Once Marmolejo looked at the prices to study overseas she thought it was an unrealistic consideration. For the 2011 spring semester Marmolejo is studying abroad in Spain, but she said she would not be there without the help of Bingham.

“Charlotte made me realize that my financial circumstances should not stop me, and when I couldn’t afford the plane ride to Seville I asked for donations from individuals. I got no donations, but Charlotte found someone to donate their travel reward points to cover my flight. She even helped me pay for my passport and visa.”

“She is the person who I want to emulate when I am older. She is my guardian angel, and I am blessed to have her in my life,” Marmolejo said.

Ivey feels similar toward Dukes and said she was grateful when Dukes opened her home to her for a month after she graduated so she could figure out her next step in life. And when Ivey’s great-grandmother passed away Dukes provided a shoulder to cry on and helped her financially.

Isamar Marmolejo at the 2010 Mentor Tech banquet.

Isamar Marmolejo at the 2010 Mentor Tech banquet.

“After I got the news she passed away she was one of the first people I went to, and I remember we just stood in the middle of the library and she held me as I cried,” Ivey said. “I was a student and didn’t have a lot of money at the time, so she gave me money for a rental car that way I could make the trip to attend the funeral.”

Nine years later, Ivey has switched roles and has been a mentor for a Texas Tech student for two years. She believes she is a witness of the program and sees how mentoring can positively affect student lives.’ Ivey and Dukes still keep in contact every week and have lunch at least once a month.

“It is important to have a mentor because you need someone in your life that will be honest with you, and someone who will tell you things you don’t want to hear but need to hear,” Ivey said. “I wouldn’t have stayed at Texas Tech if my mentor wasn’t around to encourage me.”

Mentor Tech, a component of the Cross-Cultural Academic Advancement Center, is a retention program that promotes academic workshops and campus and community involvement of students from underrepresented groups. The program is named after Lauro F. Cavazos, the first undergraduate to serve as president of Texas Tech and Ophelia Powel-Malone, the first African American undergraduate of the university.

As the nation celebrates the tenth anniversary of national mentoring month in January 2011, the Mentor Tech organization on Texas Tech campus is honoring its mentors by having an appreciation luncheon. Chancellor Kent Hance will speak at the luncheon which is held to honor the many mentors that have helped students across the university.

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2 Responses to “Mentor Tech Smooths the Path by Connecting Students with Faculty”

  1. Kamau Oginga Siwatu Says:

    Not only is this a good article about Mentor Tech’s mentors and students, but also aspects of the program that are often overlooked and not assessed.

  2. Karin S. Derby Says:

    I would like to know more about the Mentor Tech program as I am a non-traditional graduate student and would like to mentor someone that needs help. Please call 806-470-2720 as I would like to volunteer for this program.

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Mentor Tech
Mentor Tech

The Lauro Cavazos & Ophelia Powell-Malone Mentoring Program (Mentor Tech) was introduced during the fall semester of the 2002. The program seeks to enhance the quality of the educational experiences of students from underrepresented groups through programs, services, advocacy, and campus and community involvement. For additional information, contact the office at (806) 742-8692 or review the program’s fact sheet.

Division of Institutional Diversity, Equity & Community Engagement
Division of Institutional Diversity, Equity & Community Engagement

The Division of Institutional Diversity, Equity & Community Engagement is dedicated to create and support an environment that allows all members of the university community to be academically and professionally successful.

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