The peer mentor program began in the spring of 2001. It was an effort on the part of Patty Hsue ’02 to create a more welcoming and supportive campus climate. As an Chinese American student, Patty struggled during her first years at Reed. She felt that one’s transition to Reed was difficult to begin with, but that was heightened by being from a different cultural background than the majority of students. She wrote, “After a semester at Reed, with many ups and downs, I still felt incredibly different from people. Many of the cultural references people would make would zoom right over my head. Reed is an incredibly academically rigorous and challenging school, and with all the time spent studying, it is really easy to feel alone and isolated. I wanted to meet other under-represented students at Reed, people who could share my experiences and understand where I was coming from.”
By her junior year, Patty had become more comfortable here and had been able to create her own support networks. She approached a number of staff members with a proposal for the peer mentor program. She explained, “Finding my niche, or my place, at Reed empowered me to try and change the social network here. I wanted to create a network of students that would act to quickly connect incoming students with upper-class students who could support them. I also wanted to help incoming racially under-represented and first-generation college students connect with each other.”
The peer mentor program is a firmly established part of the Reed community. Its membership has grown from 27 to over 50, and includes students who came in the first year as mentees and who have now entered their second year of mentoring. Many of these mentors have identified with Patty’s goals and have helped to make her dream a reality. Patty Hsue has truly established a legacy here.