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Finding My Place at Purdue

My Experience Mentoring for the Peer Mentor Program

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

If I could describe the beginning of my sophomore year at Purdue in one word, it would be “overwhelmed.” It felt as if I was the only one struggling with managing my schoolwork. I felt very alone -- that is until I set up a meeting at the Disability Resource Center (DRC) at Purdue.

At first, I was nervous to go to my meeting with my access consultant -- I thought that I could handle my struggles on my own and that I didn’t need help from the University. But after my meeting, I realized that Purdue was able to help me solve the problems I had been having with my classes. The meeting consisted of me telling my consultant what wasn’t working for me, and we implemented academic accommodations together to help solve those issues. From then on, school became easier. After such a positive experience with the DRC, I decided to apply to be a mentor in the Peer Mentor Program (PMP) within the DRC.   

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I wanted to apply as a mentor to help remove the stigma that surrounds disabilities. Before the DRC, my thoughts about disabilities were completely different than they are now. Describing individual’s disabilities can’t be accomplished by simply checking boxes; we as humans are much more complex than that. I wanted to guide students who were in the same situation as I was sophomore year and help them realize that academic accommodations don’t put you above your peers -- it evens the playing field with them.  

Once I applied, I went through two different interviews: one with the senior director and one with the senior mentor who oversees the other mentors. After the interviews, I got the great news that I was going to be a part of the program! The Peer Mentor Program is always adding new people since students join the DRC throughout the year, so I got the privilege of having two last year. My mentees and I share interests -- both of my mentees were Krannert students, and I helped them with Krannert questions and struggles.  

One of my favorite parts about the mentor program is that the mentors meet with their mentees every other week and have one hour of social time and one hour of training with the mentees. My favorite event that I attended so far was one of the first social hours, which was an ice cream social where I got to meet everyone. It made me realize that there were people who had the same struggles as me and that I was not alone at Purdue.  

Throughout the mentor program, I learned that if you are struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Purdue has these resources to help students, and you never know, you might make the best decision to help make your years at Purdue some of the best years of your life. 

Mikaela Bretz

Mikaela Bretz is a senior studying Industrial Management with a concentration in data analytics at Purdue University. She has had three internship experiences thus far at Purdue and she enjoys coding and using tools to show others how beautiful and informative analytics can be. She is passionate about her community, her role as a mentor in the Disability Resource Center, and the opportunity to help young students with disabilities navigate the resources available to them. She has also been involved in the Doster Leadership Conference for four years, serving as Vice President this school year. She is also involved in the Larsen Mentor Program.