GPS program starts strong

More than 600 freshmen opted to participate in a new mentoring initiative that began last week, the program’s director said.

Brian Hamluk, director of the Guide to Personal Success program, which pairs freshmen with a University staff member or student, said it had a “very strong start.” The guides, which include senior vice presidents and the University Police Department chief, all reached out via e-mail to their freshmen and more than half received questions and comments in return, Hamluk said.

“Many of the students wanted to be connected to jobs or asked about getting involved in student activities,” Hamluk said. “They were interested in community service, student organizations and what to do around Washington.”

The GPS guides – who number more than 450 – received training on directing student questions and concerns in August. Each guide was required to reach out to five randomly assigned freshmen during the first week of school and to be a resource for freshmen with questions about the University and the city.

“One of the reasons people pick GW is the location and the opportunities it affords,” Hamluk said. “But too often students will leave here in four years and say, ‘I wish I had’ or ‘If I had known about this earlier.'”

He acknowledged that the early weeks of September are an adjustment period – with move-in, scheduling changes and a new lifestyle – and said he was pleasantly surprised to have so many responses from freshmen.

The next phase of the GPS program involves meeting with each student individually. In October, each guide will invite their freshmen for a lunch – paid for by the University – which will allow the students to meet their guide in person and socialize with their peers.

“The lunches are also a chance for these freshmen to meet students in different social groups,” Hamluk said. “It builds even more connections in the freshman community.”

Hamluk said the freshmen aren’t the only ones benefiting from the mentoring matches.

“Guides are getting randomly assigned freshmen and so they get a nice cross-section of the typical GW student,” Hamluk said. “The guides I’ve spoken to have been energized by their students. It’s a direct connection they might not be making otherwise.”

Freshmen expressed mixed reactions to their appointed mentors.

“I really clicked with my GPS advisor and I really think she will be a really useful source throughout college,” freshman Morgan Haronian said. “She has already put me in touch with some great sources, and she told me about some exhibits in the city that really interested me.”

“She was really nice, but I felt like we had different views about certain things,” said freshman Erika Strehl of her mentor. “She was anti-sorority and was only trying to steer me towards certain groups.”

Strehl added, “It’s nice having someone who you can ask any question to.”

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