FLIGHT Program Welcomes Nationally Recognized Mentor

February 9, 2024

UIW’s Financial Literacy, Integrated Guidance and Health career Tracts (FLIGHT) program is a federally funded Title V initiative aimed at providing mentor support to undergraduates with a synchronized emphasis on serving Hispanic students and emerging leaders in health professions. Currently, 137 certified UIW faculty and staff are contributing to this effort as mentors and continuing their own professional development to better provide effective campus-wide mentorship.

FLIGHT’s recent January retreat, centered on “Creating a Culture of Mentoring to Support Student Success,” provided the mentors’ most recent professional development opportunity. In consideration of the event theme, the program welcomed Dr. Allison McWilliams, assistant vice president of Mentoring and Alumni, Personal and Career Development at Wake Forest University.

McWilliams was recognized by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) in 2022 as Mentor of the Year in recognition of her selfless demonstration of leadership in providing exceptional support for the professional growth and advancement of her mentees. Referencing her own experiences and research at Wake Forest, she offered FLIGHT mentors lessons and insights on how to create a positive culture of mentoring at UIW.

During her session, McWilliams shared that she wants mentors to remember that mentoring is an intentional practice​ and that great mentors set their mentees up for success through goal setting, relationship-building, providing feedback and encouraging reflection. Presently, students can take advantage of connecting with mentors at the FLIGHT Mentoring Center, taking a first-year FLIGHT course that includes modules on financial literacy, mission awareness and careering planning, and a health professions pathway developed in collaboration with the Health Professions Advisory Council. Sessions and continued education opportunities like the one recently held with McWilliams will only continue to further the benefits students receive from the FLIGHT program.

“While the team that developed the FLIGHT plan in 2018 had reviewed research on other university wide mentor programs, including the Wake Forest model, this may have been the first opportunity for some of the FLIGHT mentors to hear and learn about other university wide mentor programs,” shared Sandra McMakin, UIW Title V project director.

Through McWilliams' wisdom, FLIGHT members were able to hear and learn about additional research about the power of mentoring in contributing to student success. Mentors were encouraged to reflect on the information learned, the quality of FLIGHT training and personal objectives, and consider how to further develop the program and its services in the future.

“As we continue to collaboratively build the FLIGHT Mentor program, our hope is that every student at UIW will have the opportunity to engage with, and be impacted by, at least one mentor, and hopefully more, on their pathway to graduation at UIW,” shared McMakin.

Click here to get in contact with a FLIGHT mentor and to learn how you too can become a FLIGHT mentor.