Lacey Rowland was at her wits’ end. It was only her first semester at Boise State and she felt she could go no further; she dropped out.
Four years later, she enrolled at the university once more, despite fears of repeating failure. Once she set foot on campus, her long absence became apparent.
“I had lost most of my studying skills and felt completely isolated on this huge campus in a sea of people,” Rowland said.
Luckily for Rowland, the Returning Women’s Mentoring Program (RWMP) was there to offer support. The RWMP, offered by the Women’s Center, provides a variety of services to women returning to school. Assistance includes registration, studying tips, stress management and divorce and single parent counseling.
The RWMP coupled Rowland with a mentor, Molly Smith. A returning student herself, Smith, now a BSU graduate, wanted to offer support to anyone else in the same position.
“I tried to go back (to school) after I was out for a year, and I just couldn’t relate to the students,” Smith said. “You’re lonely (and) you don’t fit in…”
Rowland attributes much of her academic success to her relationship with Smith.
“She was an ally I could go to when I felt really lonely. I could vent to about things other than school – like family, friends, and work,” Rowland said. “Molly was … a shoulder to cry on when I was really stressing out about life. She encouraged me through the tough parts of the semester and really made me feel like I could actually finish and graduate.”
Rowland and Smith became close friends that semester and their friendship continues today.
The RWMP has joined many more mentors with struggling women in an effort to help them achieve academic success. Jaime Lange, social services coordinator for the Women’s Center and former returning student, thinks the program is vital for any woman struggling to finish her degree.
“I wish I would have had this program when I was coming back. It’s so important being on a campus and having a community,” Lange said.
To become a mentor or mentee, women fill out application forms and go through an interview process with Lange. Based on that information, the RWMP pair two women whom they feel would be able to help each other.
“The whole program is designed around the mentee. It’s not a socialization program,” Lange said.
Although successful, the RWMP is not well-known on campus.
“I think more people need to be involved,” Rowland said. “Some people really need an advocate and a personal cheerleader to get them through the week and that’s exactly what Molly was (for me).”
To learn more about the Returning Women’s Mentoring Program, contact Jaime Lange at (208) 426-4259 or firstname.lastname@example.org.