The Heber J. Grant mentoring program is launching this semester at BYU-Idaho. It is catered to students who are at risk of not graduating.
“There are a lot of students that struggle that come to school,” said Shannon Stratman, Director of the Heber J. Grant Peer Mentoring Council and a junior studying social work. “They step on campus and they’re already at risk of not graduating. Statistically speaking, students that come from low-income families, students that are first generation college students and students from non-traditional families are less likely to graduate, and it’s not by any fault of their own.”
Stratman said seeing all the statistics broke her heart.
“As students of this awesome school, we have a responsibility to not let that happen — to not let those people slip through the cracks,” Stratman said.
She said most of the volunteer mentors and council members fit one or more of the at-risk criteria.
“We’ve been through that and overcome it, so that’s kind of the power behind it,” Stratman said. “A lot of our mentors were in the same position, and so they can really empathize.”
Stratman said the program is named after Heber J. Grant because of the inspiring story mentioned in President Clark G. Gilbert’s Sept. 13 devotional address.
President Gilbert said Heber J. Grant was born into poverty and raised by a single mother after his father passed away only days once he was born.
“I know that he grew up in poverty and in a non-traditional family,” Stratman said. “I know that he had incredible mentors in his life and that he became an incredible mentor — he became the prophet of the restored church of Jesus Christ.”
Stratman said she considers this a great example of mentoring, being mentored, replenishment and being self-reliant, which are qualities the program is modeled after.
Stratman said the program is focused around the same principles President Gilbert talked about in his devotional address: self-reliance, replenishment and stewardship, as well as the five stewardship areas: academic, career, life skills, discipleship and leadership.
Stratman said the Heber J. Grant Peer Mentoring Program has been in the works for the past few semesters. She said ever since the first Heber J. Grant Council met last winter semester, the councils have been working on finding out how to determine who gets mentored and designing a handbook for the mentors.
Jordan Hughes, a sophomore studying accounting, said it was amazing to help develop the workbook that they use now. He said he sees God’s hand in the project, and he cannot believe how fast it has been launched.
“It’s a great program, and it’s going to help a lot of people,” Hughes said. “I know it was inspired by God because I saw it.”
Stratman said they currently pair students that match the at-risk criteria with mentors, but the goal is to eventually have anybody who feels like they need a mentor be able to have one.
“I think all of us could use a mentor sometimes,” said Garrett Moyle, a junior studying English and member of the first Heber J. Grant Peer Mentoring Council.
Stratman said she reflected on the idea of awe. She said she is in awe of BYU-I students, like how some people are in awe of nature.
“I was thinking about all the people who have volunteered to be mentors and all the kids who are serving on the council and so willing to give up their time and of their talents and their experiences, and I realized that I am just in awe of those students and it’s really the spirit of Ricks,” Stratman said.