The Peer Mentor Program

by Andrea Mendoza Perez

This past month was rather eventful for the Peer Mentoring Program for Hispanic/Latino Students. Early in the month we went apple picking on Carter Mountain, and later in the month we hiked Humpback Rock at sunrise. It was a miracle for them to get me outdoors once, but twice? That’s how you know I love this program.

The Peer Mentoring Program serves as a type of community set up by mentor/mentee pairings; over the summer before your first year at the university, an executive board member for the program (me) bombards you with emails telling you about the program if you check yes when asked if you identify as Hispanic/Latino. As an exec member for PMP, I can see first-hand how the program is flourishing and nothing demonstrated that better than seeing the turnout at both of our November events. Apple picking had a big group of PMP and LSA (Latino Student Alliance) members alike, all of whom are incredibly photogenic as you can see.

PMP 1 PMP 2

Then, of course, came Humpback Rock. While I expected a much smaller turnout for that event, I was surprised by the number of people and the fervent enthusiasm of those people to join us that day. We left early to be on the rock by sunrise and we were not disappointed by the beauty—or the cold—of the mountain.

PMP 3

But we are college students and citizens of Charlottesville so obviously we got Bodo’s afterward.

PMP 4

I’m amazed at and grateful for our little community. We have dedicated, active members who, while put together because they checked yes, are now bonded in friendship and in having seen each other first thing in the morning before coffee.

As a final note, I thought it really fitting that we started out the month seeing the sunset and finished it out seeing the sun rise.

PMP 6 PMP 5

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Black Women’s Initiative

by Bianca Decatur

Each week, UVA’s Black Student Alliance, or BSA, sends out an email featuring upcoming events. I look forward to each week’s email and often find myself planning my week around events I’d heard about through BSA’s email.

After reading the email, I write down all the events that interest me on sticky notes. Each sticky note gets a place on my desk, and as I go to events, I remove them, one by one.

This particular email advertised an interest meeting for a club called Black Women’s Initiative. After some quick scrolling through the rest of the email, I found a short blurb for the club. The point of the club is to act as a safe space to facilitate discussion among black women at the University. This is done through presentation of books, articles, and videos, as well as personal experiences.

It was settled. As soon as I read about it, I immediately wrote down the date and time of the first meeting. Initially, I was nervous to go. It was only September, and I didn’t know many people aside from girls on my hall. However, I still managed to make it to the meeting.

As soon as I entered the classroom, I knew I’d found something special. I was greeted with friendly faces and Beyoncé was playing in the background. The meeting began promptly, and before I knew it, an hour and a half had passed flown by.

Fast forward to November, and I’ve been to three total BWI meetings. Even though I sometimes enter feeling bogged down with school and life in general, I always manage to leave with a weight lifted from my shoulders. Even though we are similar in our being black women, we differ in our experiences. I look forward to hearing everyone’s stories and thoughts, and I enjoy feeling safe enough to share my own.

After that first meeting, I knew I’d found something special. I look forward to each month’s meetings, and often see club members at other events around Grounds. Among the activities I’m involved in, BWI takes the cake as my favorite.