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Tuesday, March 19, 2013



  • The importance of peer mentors
  • Visiting scholar speaks on campus
  • Tuesday's notes


  • Editor:
  • Brandon Sweet
  • Communications and Public Affairs


A student reads a grammar textbook in a lounge setting.
The importance of peer mentors

by Jodi Szimanski, Student Success Office.

A mentor may be viewed as an adviser or even a guide, and in terms of a peer mentor, a friend. In a student’s first year, faculty and staff can seem intimidating –students are more comfortable approaching a peer. Online, we watch peers strongly impact each other on social networks and across campus, we see students benefiting from peer mentor programs.

Housing and Residences’ Manager, Living-Learning, Melissa McNown-Smith explains that “peer mentors offer the perspective of a ‘near peer.’” In the Living-Learning Communities, Peer Leaders are assigned 8-15 students registered in the same or similar academic programs that live in the same section of residence. “Peer Leaders remember what it is like to wonder about co-op, academic standings and course selection. They can often speak to questions that students have and share how they navigated these experiences,” said McNown-Smith.

The Peer Leaders benefit as well. They help students navigate experiences they’ve already encountered, watch the students grow and expand their own network with staff and faculty which is rewarding. In the International Peer Mentors program (formally known as the SHADOW program) volunteers help introduce international students to campus life and the City of Waterloo, and form their own community of mentors.

Developing a peer mentor program poses challenges; without a goal, the programs often don’t succeed. It’s also important for the mentor and mentee to share interests. International Peer Mentors are matched with students with similar interests while Living-Learning Community Peer Leaders are in the same or similar academic programs as their mentees.

More importantly, students need to feel connected. Riley Metzger, director of first-year studies in the Faculty of Mathematics wanted to form the Math Mentorship program based on the bond he saw develop between Orientation Leaders and first-year students. According to the faculty’s Integrity Officer/First-Year Experience, Ana Freitas:

“We believe that the bond could continue in a positive way as first-year students embark on their first term in the faculty.”

Laura Maple, coordinator, student development (peer mentorship) in the Student Success Office provides training to help existing mentorship programs succeed at Waterloo. The training focuses on building great mentoring relationships, developing effective communications skills and finding available resources. “It’s important to help mentors recognize what they don’t know and help them find good resources, and even help the students find their own answers,” said Maple. The opportunity for mentors to hear from other student mentors across campus helps build a stronger community of mentors across campus. Currently, Maple is working on building an online community to share peer mentor resources and learning across campus.

Photograph by Jonathan Bielaski, Light Imaging.


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Visiting scholar speaks on campus

by Arts Communications

Professor Hortense SpillersOne of the most influential scholars in African American studies and a pioneer in feminist criticism, Dr. Hortense Spillers, will be delivering two guest lectures on campus this week.

“The visit of Dr. Hortense Spillers will be a significant occasion of intellectual enrichment for faculty, students, and community members,” says Fraser Easton, chair of English Language and Literature. Spillers was a professor at Cornell University before joining Vanderbilt University where she is the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English.

As a distinguished visiting scholar, Spillers will speak at the university on March 19 and 20. In the first lecture, "The Idea of Black Culture," Spillers considers conceptualizations of black culture with reference to a number of theorists including Raymond Williams, W.E.B. Du Bois, and thinkers of the Frankfurt School. The second is titled “Women and the Republics: Intimate Life and Revolution During the 18th Century" and is focused in part on the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and his black housekeeper and slave Sally Hemings. Scheduled to be delivered later this year at Harvard University’s Du Bois Lectures, this second talk explores “what it might mean for the relationship between private and public at the beginning of some of the first republics of our modernity” observes English professor Win Siemerling, who arranged the visit. The talk will be followed by a reception.

Fraser Easton notes that this visiting scholar event is made possible by donations to English in support of the Department's activities. Details of Professor Spillers’ two lectures are posted on Arts Events. Everyone is welcome.


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Tuesday's notes

As @uwaterloolife noted on its Twitter feed yesterday, there are only three Mondays' worth of classes left in the term, notwithstanding Monday, April 8, which will be using a Friday class schedule. As the end of term approaches, the Library has announced its extended hours for the examination period, which will run from Sunday, March 31 to Thursday, April 25. During that time, the Davis Centre will be open 24 hours daily except for Sundays, when it will close from 2:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.. The Dana Porter library will be open Monday to Sunday 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.

In support of National Co-op Week, the university's official facebook page will be highlighting five different co-op students. First up is the Faculty of Environment's Spencer Chaisson, who did a work term at Bruce Power in Tiverton, ON. Also, be sure to check the university's homepage for co-op success stories this week.

The Philosophy Graduate Student Association is holding their 20th annual conference on Friday, March 22 and Saturday, March 23. the keynote address will be given by Nomy Arpaly of Brown University. The student association's website has all the details.

Here's today's nutrition "myth vs. fact" supplied by Health Services dietician Sandra Ace:

"Myth:"  Vegetables are better for you if you eat them raw.

"Fact:"  Human bodies are able to digest both raw and cooked vegetables. In fact, the health benefits of some vegetables may even be enhanced by cooking. For example, lycopene, an anti-oxidant compound in tomatoes which some studies have linked to lower cancer risks, may be more readily absorbed by the body in cooked products like tomato sauce than in raw tomatoes. So eat your veggies however you like them, just be sure to include generous servings and aim for variety.  When you do cook them, using minimal water and cooking just until tender-crisp, will help to preserve their nutrients, especially vitamin C which can be lost in cooking water or by overcooking. If you find certain raw veggies too gassy, try eating them cooked or stick with others that don’t bother you.


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Link of the day

The salmon swallows of Capistrano

When and where

University of Waterloo Staff Association (UWSA) "Let's Talk" event, Tuesday, March 19, 12:00 p.m., Brubakers, Student Life Centre. Details.

The Faculty of Arts presents Hortense Spillers on "The Idea of Black Culture," Tuesday, March 19, 4:00 p.m., Hagey Hall room 280.

Vincent Lam reads at St. Jerome's University, Tuesday, March 19, 8:00 p.m., STJ 3014. Details.

Fourth Year Design Symposium for Electrical and Computer Engineering, Wednesday, March 20, 9:30 a.m., DC foyer. Details.

UWRC Book Club meeting, featuring "The Sense of an Ending" by Julian Barnes, Wednesday, March 20, 12:00 p.m., LIB 407.

Kitchener Public Library Ideas and Issues Lecture Series featuring Christine Perdon, Department of Psychology, "Think unsexy thoughts, think unsexy thoughts ...d'oh!" Wednesday, March 20, 12:00 p.m., Forest Heights Community Library.

The Faculty of Arts presents Hortense Spillers, "Women and the Republics: Intimate Life and Revolution during the 18th century," Wednesday, March 20, 4:00 p.m., EV3-1408. Details.

MDEI Information Session, Wednesday, March 20, 5:30 p.m., MaRS Discovery District, College Street, Toronto. Details.

Int'l Spouses, Book Club featuring "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett, Wednesday, March 20, 7:00 p.m., St. Paul grad apartments, 3rd floor. Details. Note the new time.

Studies in Islam Speaker Series featuring St. Jerome's professor Steven Bednarski, "Islam at the Foundations of Western Society:How Medieval Islam Shaped the Modern World," Wednesday, March 20, 7:00 p.m., Dunker Family Lounge, Renison University College.

Waterloo Lecture, "Harnessing the Power of Multiculturalism," Wednesday, March 20, 7:00 p.m., Stratford Public Library. Details.

FIRST Robotics Waterloo Regional competition, Thursday, March 21, Friday, March 22, and Saturday, March 23, all day, Physical Activities Complex. Details.

Weight Watchers At Work registration session, Thursday, March 21, 12:15 p.m., PAS 2438, info ext. 32218.

Observations and Free Inquiries seminar featuring Hamid Tizhoosh, Systems Design Engineering, "Educating Free Humans - a conversation with serious educators" Thursday, March 21, 5:30 p.m., E5 6004. Details.

Master of Public Service Annual Talk and Dinner Social featuring the Honourable Kevin G. Lynch, Thursday, March 21, 6:00 p.m., University Club.

Philosophy Graduate Student Association's 20th annual conference, Friday, March 22 and Saturday, March 23. Details.

Knowledge Integration seminar: “Interdisciplinarity” what does it mean, and what makes it successful?, Friday March 22, 2:30 p.m.,, EV2 2002. Details.

Vision Science Research Seminar Series featuring Professor William (Bill) K. Stell, University of Calgary, “Myopia – The Long and Short of It”, Friday March 22, 3:30 p.m. OPT 1129. Details.

Int'l Spouses, "Anne of Green Gables," Saturday, March 23, 2:30 p.m., Conrad Centre for the Performing Arts. Group details. Event details.

University Senate meeting, Monday, March 25, 3:30 p.m., NH 3001.

Yellow Day Coffee Break, Tuesday, March 26, 10:00 a.m., Office of Research board room, NH 1021.

Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (I.B.M.B.) Seminar Series featuring Prof. Gerald Audette, Centre for Research on Biomolecular Interactions, York University, “Structural and Functional Studies of Protein Nanotubes and F-Plasmid Conjugation”, Tuesday, March 26 at 3:30 p.m., C2-361. Details.

Retirement Open House for Cathy Mitchell, UW Police. Wednesday, March 27, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Commissary Building, Meeting Room 1112D.  RSVP by March 22 to Sharon Rumpel, ext 33510. Details (PDF).

Int'l Spouses, Celebrate Norooz with an Iranian Cooking Demonstration, Thursday, March 28, 6:00 p.m., CLV. Details.

Good Friday, March 29, university closed.


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