Leslie Anne Serra

Scholar: Leslie Anne Serra

Leslie Anne Serra

Major: Health Ecology

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Patricia Miltenberger

Research Topic: An Exploration of the Experiences of UNR Students who are Mentors for the Dean's Future Scholars program

Abstract: The Dean's Future Scholar's is a college preparation program for first generation, underrepresented students designed to address Nevada's low college going rate and attract underrepresented individuals to teaching. It is a cooperative effort between the University of Nevada, Reno College of Education and Washoe County School District. Fifty 6th grade students are recruited annually from local Title I elementary schools. DFS scholars are provided with services such as mentoring, tutoring, summer academic enrichment and other academic support. Each cohort is followed through their high school graduation into college.

One of the unique aspects of DFS is the emphasis on weekly mentoring provided by university students. Mentoring has been shown to have a positive impact on youth, particularly when provided by mentors of similar demographic backgrounds. Ryan and Olasov (2000) indicate that students who are mentored display a decreased use in drugs and alcohol, decrease in school truancy, improvement in grades, fewer unplanned pregnancies, and an improvement in relationships with adults and peers. Further, mentoring programs can provide students with the individual attention they need (Education Commission, 1989).

While numerous studies have documented the impact of mentoring on the mentee, what is less understood is the effect on the mentors. The purpose of this research is to explore how the DFS mentoring relationship has affected the college students who have served as mentors for 2 years or longer. The study is a descriptive, qualitative case study. The theoretical construct is sense making as described by Weick (1995, 2001). In June 2009 eleven current and previous mentors were interviewed individually using a protocol approved by the university Institutional Review Board. Interviews were transcribed verbatim for analysis. Transcription analysis is being aided by use of NVivo software. A team of two faculty, a graduate student, and the McNair scholar are currently analyzing the data for themes. A preliminary finding that is being explored reflects developmental assets as described by Peter Scales and Nancy Leffert (1999).

Earned Baccalaureate Degree: Fall 2009

Earned Masters Degree: Fall 2011, Educational Leadership, University of Nevada, Reno

Doctoral Degree Update: Enrolled at University of Nevada, Reno for a PhD in Education