Since its humble beginnings in 1996, NCU has grown to over 10,000 students internationally (US News and World Reports, 2016). One of its flagship schools is the School of Business. Embedded within the School of Business is the university’s Community Exchange, comprised of Learning Communities, designed to help students make meaningful connections, share their experiences, and receive feedback on classes. The School of Business created the Student Advisory Council (SAC). The mission of the SAC is, “To serve as a voice for the School of Business student body to address and implement proactive changes that will enhance the School of Business and the student experience” (NCU, 2018).
In 2018, the Council brought in a new board of student leaders, Carthel Towns (President), Frank Acosta (Vice President ), Chelsy Smith, Kyle Long, and Matthew Hollandsworth. Eager to sustain the Council’s energy, and continue helping fellow students, Carthel (one of only three council members at the time) came up with the idea of the Avengers (based on the popular Marvel Comic series). The new pilot program would provide NCU SB students with online mentors (eMentors), who would not only help them understand course material and successfully complete their assignments/classes, but most importantly it would help students navigate the life challenges that have derailed many pedagogical dreams. The program was designed to be an organic, localized, online, and student-lead, mentoring program that provides resources and life-skills to help increase the chances of NCU School of Business students graduating.
After sharing the idea with fellow Council members, Chelsy Smith and Frank Acosta, steps were taken to draft guidelines, design a logo, and send out a request for possible mentors. Melissa Sledge (past SAC Advisor) and Honora Bullock, who supported the idea from the very beginning, sent out the call for help (this call is what assembles the Avengers). Within days the Council received over 185 responses from students and alumni expressing interest in the new program.
The Avengers were assembled to answer the call of professors, university administrators, and students for an online community focused on the “whole” student, not just classwork. As a team, the Avengers will synthesize their collective expertise to help their mentees (as well as each other) work through the myriad of “life challenges” that have a tendency to derail educational ambitions. The NCU Avengers program is still in the developmental stages as a grass-roots, organic, online peer mentoring (eMentoring) initiative but once fully implemented, the Avengers Program will be a self-directed, online eMentoring program designed “by” students, “for” students. The overall objective is to improve NCU’s graduation rate within the School of Business. Creating local networking “clusters” is also part of the program’s vision. The clusters will be comprised of local Avengers and Mentors working face-to-face (whenever possible) to strengthen the mentor/mentee relationship. It will transform NCU‘s online experience into a much needed tangible face-to-face supportive community of like-minded students, peers, and colleagues.
The Avenger’s eMentoring Program can help facilitate, encourage, and grow not only business programs at NCU, but other programs nationwide. Since inception, excitement and interest in the program has grown quickly. After presenting the Avengers Program to the NCU School of Business, The Council was encouraged to submit a proposal to introduce the Avengers Program at the 2019 Academic Resources Conference (ARC2019). The proposal was accepted and the NCU Avengers will be presenting at the ARC in April 2019 in Orange County, CA. Additionally, NCU’s Delta Mu Delta Lambda Eta Chapter, one of the most respected, prestigious, and renown international business honor societies, will partner with the Avengers to support NCU business students. With a new SAC Advisor (Dr. Stephanie Menefee), 24 highly-motivated Avengers comprising the Launch Team, over 85 Avengers waiting to mentor fellow NCU business students, and an unknown number of mentees waiting to connect with an Avenger Mentor, the NCU Avengers eMentoring Program has answered the call and is ready to change lives.
By: Carthel J. Towns Sr., MBA, President (2017-2018)
Student Advisory Council