Justin Lemoine always knew he wanted to give back after graduating from Fresno State – and that’s exactly what he did. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology with an option in Exercise Science, Lemoine entered the University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program. Even with his heavy workload, Lemoine wanted to do more. That’s why he chose to become a peer mentor in the College of Health and Human Services’ Advising and Career and Development Center (ACDC).
He started working as a peer mentor in the fall of 2017, helping freshmen students who are in Math or English remediation courses transition into college life.
“My job as a student mentor is to give [freshmen students] the student perspective to success,” Lemoine said. “As opposed to meeting with an advisor or a faculty member.”
He soon learned that by helping his fellow students he could positively impact their success at Fresno State. As a peer mentor, Lemoine strives to engage his mentees in community service, clubs and organizations, and part-time jobs. Because he is a student himself, Lemoine believes he can offer a unique perspective for students.
“I think the advantage of meeting with a student is that I’ve already been in their shoes,” Lemoine said. “I know a little bit more of what it’s like to be a student. There’s so many different majors and options available. I think it’s really just a matter of getting our students exposed to different things on campus.”
When he first arrived at Fresno State as an undergrad, Lemoine also had a difficult transition period. He says mentoring students in remedial courses is imperative, as students will need to pass their courses to remain enrolled at Fresno State.
“It was a hard thing for me as a freshman, figuring out my place on campus and how I belong here,” Lemoine said. “I actually went home after just a semester here because I didn’t feel like I was getting the full college experience.”
Now, looking back on his experience Lemoine applies the ACDC’S method for student success by showing his mentees what helped him personally succeed.
“When I got involved more, my grades started going up and I felt more inclined to do better in the classroom,” Lemoine said. “I felt like coming to school more because I had different things I was involved with. So, that’s kind of my goal here with the peer mentoring.”
As part of ACDC’s focus on helping students overcome challenges and achieve academic success, the Peer Mentor program was established a few semesters ago. Pre-Nursing major Judith Avila is part of the program this year. Her mentor, Lemoine, helped guide her through her first semester as a freshman.
“Having a mentor, someone to guide you through your first semester of college, especially for people who are first-time freshmen is a really good help,” Avila said.
Lemoine enjoyed having Avila as his mentee because he had the opportunity to learn her specific needs as a first time student.
“When we started she already had her act together,” Lemoine said. “She knew what she was doing academic-wise, but her biggest thing was getting acclimated to the different resources on campus.”
For Lemoine, the peer mentor dynamic is all about building a fun connection that keeps the students engaged and ensuring they are getting the most out of their major, like discovering Avila’s interests outside of the classroom and getting her connected to the right people in Pre-Nursing.
Avila had never encountered a mentor before Lemoine. She usually finds herself helping others, so this was a new experience to have someone help her for a change.
“Having Justin as my mentor was pretty interesting because I usually mentor others,” Avila said. “I was like ‘wow, this is nice’. We’re both pretty talkative.”
“Avila really is a leader and likes helping others too. That was the impression I got the first time I met her,” Lemoine said. “We actually meet here in Mclane Hall in-between classes. I’m kind of a middleman in that sense that I direct her to multiple avenues on campus.”
One of the places Lemoine directed Avila to was the Richter Center in the Thomas Building, which focuses on volunteerism.
“I actually found a contact in the Richter Center who does nursing and so I was able to give her a couple of contacts,” Lemoine said. “It’s good to know people who are already there kind of where you want to be.”
To learn more about the Peer Mentors Program, contact the College of Health and Human Services Advising and Career Development Center at 559.278.5027 or visit their website.
Written by Rebeca Flores, CHHS communications student assistant