Oct. 2, 2019 — The Martin V. & Martha K. Smith Foundation has awarded CSU Channel Islands’ (CSUCI) Martin V. Smith (MVS) School of Business & Economics a $34,000 grant to launch a pilot peer mentorship program for business students.

The new MVS School Peer Mentorship Program is geared toward providing crucial academic and psychosocial support to students studying business and economics. The program will support academic and post-graduate success, while also providing opportunities for students to deepen their engagement with the MVS School.

High-achieving, upper division students with demonstrated academic aptitude and leadership skills will serve as embedded mentors in courses business students often find the most challenging such as microeconomics, macroeconomics, finance and managerial accounting. 

The mentors will spend several hours each week providing tutoring and small-group learning sessions. In addition, the mentors will hold walk-in hours and organize events to help their fellow students navigate the “hidden curriculum” of being a first-generation college student such as how to find and access resources to enhance their academic experience, seek out internships, or approach a faculty member in office hours.

“Research shows that many of our first-generation students and students from underrepresented backgrounds may feel more comfortable seeking additional academic and social support from a peer, who can also encourage students to take advantage of the additional faculty and staff resources on campus,” said Susan Andrzejewski, Ph.D., Interim Dean of the MVS School of Business & Economics.

The program is being piloted in MVS School’s upper-division Business Finance course, with the intent of increasing the number of business majors who successfully complete their finance courses. The program will also ensure that business majors with an option in Finance will have a robust foundation in finance basics to draw upon as they progress through their studies.

“The benefit of the program is two-fold,” Andrzejewski said.  “Not only does it allow us to provide additional leadership and campus job opportunities to students who have performed very well, but by serving as a peer mentor, these students can help 40 or so of their peers succeed as well.”

The Martin V. and Martha K. Smith Foundation was established by Martin V. “Bud” Smith and his wife Martha with the mission “To enhance the quality of life for the residents of Ventura County.” Bud Smith, the leading land and business developer in Ventura County for more than 50 years, and his wife Martha hoped that the Foundation would involve future generations of their family in continuing their appreciation of Ventura County and their care and concern for strengthening the community. Four of Bud and Martha Smith’s descendants serve on the board of the Foundation. Joining the Ventura County Community Foundation as a support organization in 1994, the Martin V. & Martha K. Smith Foundation provides funding to nonprofits in Ventura County through an annual grant program, with an emphasis on organizations serving the Oxnard plain.

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