Students in The University of New Mexico’s  Physics & Astronomy and Interdisciplinary Science (PAÍS) building are not just learning for themselves, but helping their peers grasp concepts and make it through the day as well.

 The Physics and Astronomy Graduate Student Association (P&A GSA) has launched the Peer Undergraduate Mentorship Program (PUMP).

 Graduate students and upper year undergraduates act as emotional and academic support for students pursuing a degree in physics.  

Mentees are paired with a mentor for an entire semester, to foster connections with different degrees and students of all levels, while gaining assistance in learning difficult concepts.

 The symbiotic relationship also gives mentors the opportunity to develop their leadership and coaching skills ahead of a potential career in academia.

P&A GSA co-president Ian Birdwell says he was inspired by his own experiences, or lack thereof, and saw a need at UNM.

“I went to an institution which only had an undergraduate program for physics, and I spent a lot of time thinking about what I would have benefited from if I had connections with a graduate student,” he said.

PUMP pairs two to four undergraduate students with a mentor based on interests. Each group meets every two weeks to build on common hobbies and work through things like stress management and test anxiety.

Other groups focus on next career steps, and dive into academic feedback for personal statements and  graduate school applications.

Organizers believe this is a huge stepping stone towards improving undergraduate retention in PAÍS, as well as career development for students.

 “We want to make sure undergraduate students get validation and emotional support where possible.  Everybody benefits here, and we hope that folks who are involved in this program can go on to be effective mentors and leaders for others,” Birdwell said.

There is still room for a few mentees this semester. Email to sign up.