As a Barbara Voorhees mentor, Josephine Awadalla DRC’22 is helping to make a difference for first-year Douglass students.
Peer mentoring through the Barbara Voorhees Mentoring Program is one of the many layers of mentorship available to students at Douglass. The program pairs peer mentors like Awadalla with students taking Knowledge and Power: Issues in Women’s Leadership, the Douglass foundation course. Often, students in Knowledge and Power are in their very first days at Douglass. Peer mentors schedule one-on-one appointments with the students in the course, helping them acclimate to the University, navigate academics, and begin their college educations on a positive note.
“To be a good mentor, you must put yourself in the position of your mentees. A good mentor knows how to listen,” said Awadalla. “You must be accessible and learn the difference between friendship and mentorship in order to ensure that the mentee is on the right track.”
Awadalla is a public health major who is pursuing an organizational leadership minor alongside certificates in global health, health policy, and health disparities. She’s also involved with Douglass programs ranging from the Global Village to the Research Advisory Board and Project SUPER. As a student heavily involved in both academics and co-curriculars, she is a perfect candidate to mentor other students throughout their paths at the University.
Barbara Voorhees Mentors develop mentoring expertise through Mentoring: Leadership Practice, a course specifically designed to boost their leadership skills and knowledge of feminist pedagogy.
“The leadership class that all mentors take was the highlight of the semester,” said Awadalla. “I really looked forward to attending.”
This class was particularly critical for peer mentors this past year, as serving as a mentor during a pandemic added an extra dimension to their responsibilities.
“Since I mentored during the pandemic, my experience was unique,” she said. “I found myself eager to search for new ideas that could replace the lack of face-to-face connection.”
Ultimately, serving as a Barbara Voorhees Mentor for Knowledge and Power showed Awadalla that anyone can make a difference in the life of a peer, and helped develop her passion for empowering her fellow students in the Douglass community.
“My experience as a Barbara Voorhees Mentor taught me that you don’t have to have it all together to help someone else out,” she said.
After graduation, Awadalla plans to receive a Master of Public Health with a concentration in social and behavioral health science and a certificate in epidemiology. She hopes to use her knowledge to do research around the globe. Eventually, she’d like to receive a Ph.D. to do research with the World Health Organization or UNICEF.
“Douglass has helped me discover my passion for public health and guided me through a successful college career,” she said. “I was able to gain research experience and connect with people that I would have never been able to communicate with otherwise. The College guided my identity development and helped me learn all that women can conquer.”