2SLGBTQIA+ Youth Mentorship Program celebrates successful pilot 

CEGEP students paired with McGill mentors, and provided tailored guidance, workshops, and support networks 
Mentees, mentors, and facilitators celebrating the success of the pilot program together at the Faculty ClubCamille Georges

During March and April, CEGEP students have been regularly coming to McGill campus to attend an eight-week pilot of the University’s 2SLGBTQIA+ Youth Mentorship Program.  

This new program was envisioned as a part of 2SLGBTQIA+ Community Outreach Initiative, which has also helped launch a 2SLGBTQIA+ Emergency Bursary for students in need with the Scholarship and Student Aid Office. 

Hosted through Branches, McGill’s Community Outreach Program at Enrolment Services, the 2SLGBTQIA+ Youth Mentorship Program matched CEGEP students with McGill students based on individual needs, academic inclinations, and co-curricular interests. 

The pilot program culminated in a celebration at the Faculty Club on April 25, where participants celebrated the community built, reflected on the transformative journeys undertaken, and discussed the impacts of the program. 

Dedication in design 

The cohort at the start of program social mixer in the Welcome Centre
Madeleine Nadler

2SLGBTQIA+ and gender diverse youth experience disproportionate rates of verbal, physical, and sexual harassment as well as face prejudice, discrimination, and isolation. These issues are especially prevalent for transgender, non-binary, and two-spirit youth who may not feel welcome or safe on university campuses and may be deterred from pursuing higher education.  

In offering mentorship, tailored workshops, and support networks by and for members of these communities, this program’s goal is to empower 2SLGBTQIA+ youth in their personal, academic, and career journeys. 

Before the start of the program mentors receiving training on best practices and resources to ensure preparedness for to working with a potentially vulnerable population.  

The 2SLGBTQIA+ Youth Mentorship Program was developed and carried out by 2SLGBTQIA+ Community Ambassador, Twisha Singh, PhD, Student Outreach Manger, Patricia Diaz del Castillo, and Business Analyst Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Madeleine Nadler, of the Branches team.  

Impactful experiences 

To start off the program a social mixer, “Rainbow Connections” was held at the Welcome Centre.  The event allowed CEGEP students to meet their McGill mentors, learn more about the structure of the program, have an opportunity to network with other participants. Icebreaker activities to helped increase comfort in a fun and social setting before delving into individual meetings and informative sessions.   

Wellness Advisor, Leah Dolgoy, leading a group activity during one of the weekly workshops Twisha Singh

In addition to the one-on-one mentorship aspect of this program, tailored weekly one-hour workshops were offered in collaboration with subject matter experts from units such as the Wellness Hub and Carrer Planning Service. Some of the topics covered over the course of the program included developing networking skills, transitioning to higher education, resume crafting and career development skills, mental health strategies, financial literacy and planning, as well as experiences in university and the workplace. 

“I have learned so much from this mentorship program,” said Misha, a mentee from the program. “When I was having a career crisis, it helped me find my way. When I was panicking about housing and money, I was shown plan Bs and a multitude of scholarship possibilities. I have met people similar, yet different, from me – some of with which I have become good friends. This amazing program is exactly what I needed.”

The program also invited guest speakers Katerina Symes, PhD, currently teaching in the department of Humanities at Vanier College; and Mitchell Miller, a Faculty Lecturer in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education at McGill, to host a panel on demystifying higher education. The group discussed topics such as challenges faced during university, pivotal moments that their shaped educational path, navigating the transition from academia into the professional world as well as strategies and key factors that helped impact success in higher education and beyond.     

Community celebration 

To mark the success of the pilot 2SLGBTQIA+ Youth Mentorship Program, facilitators, mentors and mentees gathered at the Faculty Club.  

A mentor relates their experience with and talks about the impact of the programCamille Georges

As part of the celebratory event, entertainment was provided, networking opportunities were available for the program’s cohort, and inspiring testimonials were given from by the program’s beneficiaries. 

“The mentorship has provided invaluable guidance, connecting me with experienced individuals who understand the unique challenges faced by LGBTQ+ persons,” said Moss, a mentee. “Through this program, I’ve gained knowledge and confidence pertaining to a career in and after academia, built meaningful relationships, and developed skills that will help me navigate my transition from CEGEP to university. It’s a program I would highly recommend to any Queer students considering higher education.”

The 2SLGBTQIA+ Youth Mentorship Program will continue as a full program, with the next cycle in Fall 2024. 

For more information about the program, please see the webpage or contact twisha.singh@mcgill.ca


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