Alumni, students forge bonds, find camaraderie through mentoring program

Stephanie Koons
November 17, 2020

The College of Education Alumni-Student Mentoring Program gives students an opportunity to connect with alumni working in their chosen fields.

Being paired with a professional mentor is a somewhat uncertain endeavor — you never really know if you’re going to click with the other person. But for Madisyn Aman and Kim Kiehl, both College of Education alumnae, their partnership has been a resounding success.

“Across time, I think we’ve developed a friendship which I value very much,” said Kiehl, who received her doctorate from the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in 1990. “I’ve mentored a lot of people; I’ve stayed in touch with some but I haven’t stayed in touch with others as much as I have with Madi.”

Aman, who graduated from the College of Education in May with a bachelor’s degree in secondary social studies education and now is working as a long-term substitute teacher in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, got connected to Kiehl, who lives in Columbus, Ohio, and recently started a position as chief operating officer for the Ohio High School Athletic Association, through the College of Education Alumni-Student Mentoring Program. The professional development program gives students an opportunity to tap into the knowledge and expertise of College of Education alumni. Contact is made through the Alumni Relations Office and matches are made based on shared career interests.

“For the students especially, it’s really a professional development opportunity for them that helps enhance what they’re learning in the classroom,” said Stefanie Tomlinson, assistant director of alumni relations in the College of Education.

Once a mentor and protégé are matched, Tomlinson said, they stay matched throughout the student’s time at Penn State. That gives them time to build a relationship, with the hope they will stay connected after graduation — just as Aman and Kiehl have.

Andrew Ahearn, who received a master’s degree in educational leadership from the College of Education in 2017, is one of those alumni who relishes the opportunity to stay in the know about his alma mater.

“I get to see how we’re developing these new teachers and the experiences they have through Penn State, and I’ve got to say, Penn State does a really good job,” he said.

Ahearn, who previously worked in the Mifflin County School District and now teaches seventh-grade advanced math in the State College Area School District, got connected to College of Education junior Rachael Savio during her freshman year through the Alumni-Student Mentoring Program. Savio, who is from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and is majoring in middle level math education, said she appreciates the opportunities that the program provides to “get a realistic look at what the education field looks like and what my career is going to be like.”

Savio and Aman both said they appreciate the collegiality of the mentoring relationship, adding that it carries even more weight during a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has turned the education world upside down.

“I feel like teaching is one of those jobs where you can try to talk to people who aren’t teachers but it’s hard,” said Aman. “Having done it herself, (Kim) understands what I’m trying to say or what I’m going through without me having to go through the nitty-gritty details of it all.”

“Even if you just have someone who has gone through what you’ve gone through, just to have someone there who understands what it’s like and can say, ‘I’ve been in your shoes’ … I think that’s really important, especially right now.,” Savio said.

For more information about the Alumni-Student Mentoring Program, contact Tomlinson at skt2@psu.edu or 814-863-2216.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 17, 2020