New Students May Apply for SAIL Mentorship Program Through June 15
A Piedmont University mentorship program called SAIL, an acronym for “Start. Achieve. Impact. Lead,” gives incoming first-year and transfer students an extra hand when navigating the transition to college. It benefits students by helping them build friendships before the academic year starts. They also move into campus housing earlier than other students.
Incoming students are “Voyagers” in the SAIL program. SAIL includes an off-campus retreat that encourages relationship building.
Former participants like exercise science major Maheer Mushfiq praise the program. He appreciated the opportunity to bond through group sports, arts and crafts, hiking, swimming, and other activities.
“It’s college kids having a great time, learning, and enjoying one another,” Mushfiq said. “I took part in SAIL because I felt that it would be a great way to get my foot in the door for my first year of college.”
Voyagers are assigned a “Navigator,” an upper-level student mentor trained for the role. Navigators connect, support, and engage with students throughout their first semester. Faculty/staff members who oversee Navigator and Voyager teams are “Captains.” They serve as a point of contact, resource, and direct campus connection for all SAIL participants.
Specific sessions during the retreat have varied since SAIL started in 2018, but they always focus on student success. Participants will be well-versed in topics like how to read a syllabus, what to talk about during office hours with faculty, and how to sign up for a tutoring appointment.
Ineke Dyer, director of Piedmont’s Student Support Services, oversees the program.
“We involve members of the campus community to inform students about resources available to them such as counseling services, tutoring and supplemental instruction, campus activities, and career services,” Dyer said. “We want to make sure they are familiar with Starfish (Piedmont’s online student engagement tool), have a student planner, and start talking about time management.”
“We also give the students a good amount of downtime for arts and crafts, hiking, kayaking, swimming, and just getting to know other students.”
Voyagers will move into campus housing on Aug. 9, three days before other freshmen. New students can set up their rooms before meeting other SAIL participants in the Commons for dinner. Students can get to know each other before leaving for the retreat center the next morning.
“The biggest benefit that incoming SAIL Voyagers have is getting to know the upper-class students early and being able to build friendships with them and the rest of the Voyagers, so they won’t feel lost or lonely when school starts,” Mushfiq said. “I would highly recommend the SAIL program for any incoming freshmen as it provides a great opportunity to make long-lasting memories and friendships.”
Students who attend will be required to meet with their mentor every week through the fall 2023 semester.
There are 65 slots available for the SAIL program, and priority goes to first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented students. The deadline to apply is June 15.
For more information about SAIL, visit piedmont.edu/sail.