Starting university can be an exciting experience but it also brings with it new challenges. Many students, especially those from backgrounds typically less likely to attend university (also known as Widening Participation students) take a bit of time to find their feet. We're on the search for students to be mentors for these students. As a Buddy Mentor you will be paired with a first year Widening Participation student to offer them guidance and support. We asked Varsha about her experience of being a mentor including what she enjoyed and also why she would recommend becoming a mentor to other students.
Varsha is a King's Buddy Mentor
- Tell us a bit about yourself
Hi, my name is Varsha and I’m currently a third-year biomedical engineering student. I have lived in Greater London all my life and decided to finally venture into central London for university! It’s definitely been a great decision and I have really enjoyed my time at King’s so far. My favourite sport is netball and I really enjoy playing at university tournaments and training with my team. I love trying to cook new foods, especially during lockdown periods, and listening to podcasts during walks. It has also been interesting to find fun new ways to keep connected with friends and family this year besides Zoom!
- Why did you decide to be a mentor on the KCLSU Buddy Scheme?
I understand that university can seem overwhelming, especially when a student may not have had access to the opportunities or a backing network that others have. Furthered by being in the midst of a pandemic, this can be a time of great uncertainty. I think the Buddy Scheme is an excellent initiative and I wanted to contribute as a Mentor by helping guide new students really thrive at King’s. I also love meeting and working with new people and being able to do so while supporting this Widening Participating scheme has been a rewarding experience.
- What have you enjoyed most about being a mentor?
I have mostly enjoyed getting to know about my mentees and our conversations about university. It has been really enriching to hear about my mentees’ experiences and be able to provide answers, support or advice based on my own experiences. It’s been amazing to see how they’ve taken initiative and grown to be so keen to engage in King’s life. I’m very grateful to have met my mentees through the Buddy Scheme as I would not have crossed paths with them otherwise. I have also learnt a lot from their infectious positive attitudes and am glad to have made friends with them.
- Has the KCLSU Buddy Scheme helped you throughout the pandemic, if so, how?
The Buddy Scheme has absolutely helped me through the pandemic as it has introduced me to members of the King’s community I would not have otherwise met, especially given that teaching was predominantly online for my course. The events organised have facilitated discussions and have enabled me to connect with my mentees in addition to catching up with them. It’s been fulfilling to have meaningful connections with people, particularly when social interaction has been limited during the pandemic.
- What skills have you gained from being a mentor on the scheme?
As a mentor on the scheme, I have gained more confidence in facilitating open conversations about wellbeing and mental health. The scheme provides training opportunities but has also enabled me to hone my communication skills. This includes listening and responding adaptively to best form meaningful rapports with people, especially virtually as this can be challenging when you cannot meet in person. I am also more aware of all King’s has to offer by helping my mentees with university and course related questions.
- Why should people apply to mentor on the KCLSU Buddy Scheme?
I would definitely recommend applying to be a mentor on the Buddy Scheme as there are only pros to it! It has been a great experience to develop skills as a mentor but most importantly, meet other students across King’s. You can share your insights to help students from backgrounds underrepresented in higher education gain the most out of their time at King’s and contribute to Widening Participation.
If you want to help new students get settled into university, you can apply to be a mentor on the scheme up until Monday 5 July 2021. To find out more about the scheme and to apply, click here!