Building a nursing network through mentorship

Brooke Killmon
December 16, 2020

Since becoming an independent college in 2014, the College of Nursing assumed their own Alumni Society and mentoring program. The mentoring program has subsequently become an incredibly important part in the success of current and former nursing students, with the overarching goal to prepare the current students for their professional careers in nursing and become active alumni. It also allows students to explore career planning, college to career transition, leadership development, as well as helping both mentor and mentee build effective personal and professional relationships.

These relationships are better able to be built through LionLink, a Penn State-exclusive networking and mentorship site. Among many different features, LionLink includes the ability to search for specific Penn State alumni and current students based on a myriad of criteria. This enables the student or alumnus to find someone with similar or desired experiences that can help them better learn and grow.

“LionLink also gives a centralized platform for mentors and mentees to utilize during their mentorship experience. Participants have a place to ask questions to not just their own mentor, but the group in general through the discussion board. There is also a resource section that is managed by program administrators that can help educate the participants as well as keep them on track throughout the program,” said Lisa Milne, assistant director of Alumni Career Services.

The mentoring program has successfully paired 50 to 60 upperclass students with an alumni mentor each year. The program has received lots of positive feedback, with many pairs requesting to be matched once more. Nicole Ruggiero and Nicole Wills are a current mentor and mentee pair and have been paired for the second consecutive year. Ruggiero, a 2014 graduate through the Accelerated BSN Program at Penn State Altoona, has been serving as a mentor for her third year and found gratification in her decision to apply for the program.

“We [Ruggiero and Wills] both requested to be re-matched this year because we enjoyed communicating with each other. I was able to help her over the past year editing resumes and cover letters, as well as prepping for interviews with practice questions,” said Ruggiero. “I hope anyone on the fence about participating gives it a try. I think all of us remember being in nursing school and eventually being a new RN, so I hope anyone who applies can become the mentor they would have liked to have had.”

For Wills, a senior bachelor of science nursing student at University Park, the desire to get involved within the Penn State community was what ultimately pushed her to join the mentoring program.

“I was excited to be able to develop a positive relationship with a Penn State graduate who I can look up to and who can guide me as I transition from nursing school, to obtaining my RN (registered nurse certification) and working as a nurse,” said Wills. “I had a lot of questions and concerns about my potential career interests, passing the NCLEX, and transitioning to working as a nurse. Thankfully, my mentor answered many questions I had and provided so much insight and knowledge to lessen my worries I had about the future.”

The program includes social events for students and alumni such as a Kickoff Luncheon and a Senior Recognition event. As COVID-19 details continue to remain unknown, future events are projected to be virtual until further notice.

Any nursing student or alumni interested in participating in the mentoring program may visit: for more information and to sign up.


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    IMAGE: Penn State

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Last Updated December 16, 2020