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January 5, 2017

Association recognizes mentoring leader

Catherine A. Gorman, mentoring and special programs coordinator for the Office of Undergraduate Studies, has been recognized for her outstanding commitment to developing mentoring opportunities at FGCU and to advancing the profession of mentoring.

Catherine Gorman
Catherine Gorman

The International Mentoring Association has conferred its Consultant Certification upon Gorman, an Eagle alumna (‘12, B.A., ’14 M.A., English) who founded the FGCU Honors Mentor Program in 2011. Because of that program’s success, she has used it as a model to develop other mentoring programs geared toward special interests, including students in the Leadership Through Service Living Learning Community, high school students taking college courses at FGCU through the Accelerated Collegiate Experience (ACE) and women majoring in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (WiSTEM).

These programs have “greatly benefited new higher education students, the mentors who serve them and the university staff in creating a culture based on student needs and support,” according to the IMA Board of Directors. “The relationships that are built provide a safe environment for the students to acclimate to their new surroundings with a focus on academic success. Ms. Gorman has institutionalized an excellent program that will be highlighted in future IMA publications and activities.”

In 2016, 97 mentors assisted more than 900 mentees through Undergraduate Studies. Mentoring is a proven tool for enhancing student success through graduation and retention rates — areas of strategic priority at FGCU. Other departments and colleges within the university as well as the Alumni Association and the Students Who Served organization also provide mentoring opportunities.

Mentors provide access to resources students often don’t realize exist, Gorman said, and help mentees improve critical thinking, problem solving and communication skills.

“I have personally benefited from many mentors in my life,” she said. “Mentoring is a mutually beneficial process. Both mentor and mentee learn from and elevate one another. Mentees offer mentors new perspectives and enhance skills that can be transferred to mentors’ future careers.”

As an IMA-certified consultant, Gorman will have the opportunity to represent and promote mentoring in higher education as well as to peer-review IMA publications. The IMA is a nonprofit association of mentoring professionals in the education, business and government sectors. It provides certification to individuals who meet rigorous standards and awards accreditation to effective, well-designed mentor programs through a comprehensive review process.

From 2007 to 2010, FGCU’s Honors Program grew from 86 students to nearly 250 — rapid growth that necessitated adjustments to ensure student success. The program now is in the process of expanding into an Honors College.

Prior to Gorman establishing formal mentorships, an informal “cohort” system existed in which Honors students casually met peers within their major prior to the start of classes. Gorman developed a mentoring mission statement, clarified program goals and compiled a handbook for mentors. The expected outcomes of the Honors Mentor Program include collaborative learning of solution-oriented techniques, building of communication skills and execution of conflict-management tactics. These goals are in alignment with FGCU’s Quality Enhancement Plan.

“I am honored and flattered to be accepted as a certified mentoring consultant and am thrilled to have the opportunity to promote mentoring and expand its benefits,” Gorman said.