CMU Provides Mentoring Program for Students

Central Michigan University prides itself on the number of opportunities it provides students to volunteer and partake in community outreach. One new program gaining popularity is lunch buddies.

Lunch buddies began in the spring as a way to connect elementary students in the Mount Pleasant school district with students at CMU. College students serve as a buddy to elementary students and eat lunch with them every Friday.

Students from Central are paired with children starting in the fourth grade who may be going through some personal struggles and need someone to confide in. “[Students] help them learn the values of life, healthy eating habits, positive behavior and help them go through hard times,” said Alison Zywicki a sophomore at CMU. Some of the students are considered at risk, so the support of a college student can be extremely beneficial in times of need.

Zywicki has been involved with lunch buddies since the program started and was attracted to the idea of being able to mentor a young student, which she was familiar with after being involved in a similar tutoring program in high school.

Beyond lunch, the buddies sometimes do various activities together such as crafts and often go to the playground for a portion of the afternoon. This allows bonding time for the college student and their buddy, which aids in forming a trust with one another.

The elementary students aren’t the only ones learning from the experience, according to sophomore Sarah King.

“[The student] is making just as much of an impact on me as I am making on her by being her mentor within the program,” King said.

King also spoke on her excitement in furthering her relationship with her buddy as she gets to know more about her and her experiences.

Few programs on campus offer similar experiences to lunch buddies, which leaves its mark on both the college student involved and the elementary student alike. For Zywicki, the experience is considered beneficial to both parties. “Not only do we get to learn from them, but they get to learn from us. It’s a chance for growth on both sides,” Zywicki said.

“I would recommend [lunch buddies] to anyone who enjoys working with kids or helping out the Mount Pleasant community. It is a great way to get away from the college scene and spend time with kids and see what a great impact you are making on the community while being both a mentor and role model,” King said.

For those who want to get involved with lunch buddies, an application to the program can be submitted through the OrgSync website. The application for the upcoming semester has already closed, but there will be more opportunities available in the fall.