Mentoring 365 Project: A Passion for Peer Mentoring

October 15, 2015

Jeff CropJeffrey Bissoy-Mattis is a junior at Carleton College, and has been OIIL Peer Leader for the past two years. Even though he initially didn’t consider taking the position, someone noticed how naturally mentoring came to Jeff and decided his outgoing personality and compassion for others was a natural fit for a program that specifically addresses the needs of many incoming students of color. Jeff also brought his experience of mentoring a junior high student while in high school to the OIIL Peer Leader role.

“My freshman year I don’t think I would have made it without my friends looking out for me.”

Jeff’s personal experience of being mentored in his youth led him to becoming a mentor through the OIIL program. He and his mother moved to Minnesota from Cameroon when he was only 5, and, although they experienced some struggles, overcame their challenges with the help of their church and area families. From a Lutheran family showing him around the state during his youth, to an English teacher introducing him to Carleton and helping him with his writing skills, Jeff acknowledges how much of an impact these individuals had on his accomplishments. Jeff points to his mother as his most important mentor, a woman who despite various difficult situations made a commitment to providing her son with the opportunities he needed to grow into a great young man and successful mentor.

“He just tried to give me pointers as to how I could better understand the system and how things work, and if I’m in a conflict when I need to get help.”

Jeff is currently mentoring four students of varying races and ethnicities through the OIIL Peer Leader Program. He enjoys his time with his mentees, sharing the wisdom he garnered during his own time as a first-year student at Carleton and preparing them to thrive academically and to potentially join the OIIL Peer Leader program as mentors. Jeffrey’s dedication to mentoring and preparing youth for their future is a great example of the impact of peer mentoring.