President Beck presents the honorary doctorate hood on former US Second Lady Tipper Gore.By Zoe Lance

As a supporter of education and an advocate for mental health awareness, supporting peer mentorship at CSUCI seemed like a perfect fit for former U.S. Second Lady Tipper Gore.

To that end, Gore has become the founding donor for “The Tipper Gore Award for Excellence in Peer Mentorship,” which will provide $3,500 a semester for selected peer mentor “ambassadors” who will continue to mentor as well as take on other responsibilities to advocate for the program.

Gore, who splits her time between Virginia and Santa Barbara, is a relatively new friend to CSUCI, but has been such a champion for the University that she was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters during the 2018 Commencement ceremony.

“I really fell in love with the University and the people I met there and the student body,” Gore said. “I asked what the University really needed and I was told about the peer mentorship program.”

Gore believes in the power of peer mentors who can provide students with academic, emotional and practical support for what can be an unfamiliar environment.

“It’s another person in a closer age bracket so they can identify more,” Gore said. “A teacher or older person might be able to dispense advice and guidance, but when that guidance comes from someone close to their age with some experience under their belts, it’s more meaningful.”

I really fell in love with the University and the people I met there and the student body.

Tipper Gore

After transferring to CSUCI from Alan Hancock College in Santa Maria, Business major Bryan Calazan was struggling. He was overwhelmed attending school full time while also holding down a full-time job.

“When I transferred from junior college, I was not expecting how hard it would be for me,” he said. “I didn’t really know how to balance things.”

Not only was he the first in his family to attend college, he had also grown up in the Philippines speaking Tagalog, so English was a second language.

When he found himself on academic probation, he sought help from the University’s Peer Education & Equity Program (PEEP), which provides peer mentors to students who need help.

He was paired with Sarah Teniente, who was also a first-generation college student, a Business major, and had transferred from Alan Hancock College in Santa Maria.

“It was hard for him because he’s the full provider for his family,” she said. “I helped him with his grammar, offered study tips and guided him to other free resources on campus. I’ve gone through what he’s gone through.”

Teniente says the help she gives her mentees is not confined to academics.

“I’m there for my mentees for anything they need,” she said. “Picking professors, roommate problems — I’ll be able to guide them in the right direction.”

Gore hopes others will contribute to the peer mentorship fund so those success stories continue to multiply and have a positive impact on more young adult lives.

To learn more or support the peer mentorship program visit:

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© Fall 2018 / Volume 22 /Number 02 / Bi-annual

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