by Sophia Lyons
Sophia Lyons is a senior Rhetoric and Writing major at Ball State University. Sophia was awarded Living Learning Community Program of the Year in her first year as the Academic Peer Mentor for the Humanities Living Learning Community in Studebaker East.
What is an Academic Peer Mentor?
An academic peer mentor is responsible for creating programming for a living-learning community. LLCs house a specific group of majors and it is the APMs job to integrate the academic keystones in those majors to programs in a residence hall. Our ultimate goal is the academic success of our residents, so we are knowledgeable of on-campus resources, host weekly academic initiatives, plan monthly programs, and facilitate a trip each semester. For the Humanities LLC, this translates to programs like the Star Party, Fall Writing Fest, and Campfire Songs with the Modern Languages Department.
Why did you choose to become an APM?
I was actually applying to be an RA when I found out about the APM position. I was interested in being an RA because I wanted to elevate my college experience and make it more meaningful by having a position where I can make an impact on people’s lives and be part of their support system. Thinking back about wanting to be an RA always makes me laugh a little bit now because I’m so much better suited to be an APM and I had no idea. I have always been more academically-oriented than socially, so when I heard about the APM position, I was ecstatic. I learned that I could help people succeed academically by engaging with the curriculum in my own department and the rest of the humanities while also gaining professional development.
What are some highlights of your job?
Making meaningful connections with so many residents with such a variety of majors and goals is definitely one of my favorite things about the job. I love being part of their undergraduate experience and hearing about their success. The professional development I’ve gained from this position is invaluable. From what I’ve learned in my classes, I’ve really been able to craft an impressive resume because of what the job requires. Humanities LLC did not exist before my first year as an APM, so I got to innovate and build my own programming model. This semester, I took residents in the LLC on the second annual trip to Chicago. We stayed in Chicago for two nights and three days. The residents had a lot of free time to shop and explore, but because LLCs are academically-focused, we also visited the Art Institute of Chicago and the American Writers Museum. I’ve also really enjoyed getting to work with Humanities faculty to produce helpful programming for my residents that bridge what they’re learning in their classes to fun events in the building.
What does a week look like for an APM?
I got really good at time management really quickly when I started my job. I have separate one-on-one meetings with my hall director and my LLC supervisor every other week, a weekly staff meeting with my APM staff, and a weekly meeting with my hall staff (the RAs, hall director, and assistant hall director in my building). I host Assignment Development, the Humanities academic initiative, once a week where students come and work on homework for about two hours. I make myself available to residents and interact with them throughout a week and also spend some time planning and getting ready for my monthly program.
Can people apply to be an APM?
Yes! In order to apply to be an APM or an RA, students have to take EDHI 200, a one-credit class that introduces you to concepts that you will engage with as a student staff member in Housing and Residence Life. There are some requirements, but I am so grateful for the things I have learned and the people I have met—both residents and coworkers—through this position. I highly recommend applying if you are interested in diversifying your college experience, both professionally and socially. The application is currently open as of December 2nd and it closes on January 17th, 2020.