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With a 49 percent non-white population in the accepted freshman class, minority student groups are expanding their programs for incoming students and underclassmen.

From the Penn Women’s Center to the Black Student League, a variety of minority groups on campus offer mentorship programs for incoming students.

The purpose of these programs is primarily to inform minority students that “they’re not the only ones,” College sophomore and Admissions and Outreach Chairwoman of the United Minorities Council Jewel Lestersaid. One such program is the Asian Pacific American Leadership Initiative, which begins with a weekend retreat at the start of the fall semester and then continues throughout the year with six facilitated discussions.

These discussions are meant to “empower rising leaders with a sense of Asian Pacific American identity,” Wharton junior and Asian Pacific Student Coalition Chairman Rohan Grover said.

A graduate of APALI, Grover described the purpose of the program as a way for students to learn leadership skills that they can then apply to future projects and culturally based campaigns.

The Fellowship in Building Intercultural Communities, a multicultural mentoring program for freshmen and sophomores, began using a similar format this semester.

Sponsored by the Greenfield Intercultural Center, the program aims to bring together student leaders of various minority groups and “educate them in interculturalism,” College senior and FBIC Co-Founder Brian Kroenersaid.

While APALI and FBIC focus on building tomorrow’s leaders, the Black Student League Peer Mentoring Program, the Penn Women’s Mentorship Project and Promoting Enriching Experiences and Relationships are mentoring programs that aim to foster relationships.

Though they vary in participation requirements, the three programs function in essentially the same way: underclassmen are matched with upperclassmen or graduate mentors. After initially meeting each other at a beginning-of-the-year event, the pairs are encouraged to spend time together and learn about each other.

The purpose of such programs is “to provide a support group for incoming freshmen,” College junior and Vice President of the Black Student League Brittany Harris said.

In addition to helping students adjust, the program is meant to provide students with stress-relief. “Above all else, it’s meant to be fun,” Program and Outreach Coordinator of the Penn Women’s Center Shaina Adams-El Guabli said.

Although these mentoring programs officially end after one academic year, “the mentor-mentee relationship is timeless,” Grover said.

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