New youth mentoring certificate gives students an opportunity to gain valuable skills and experience

Spring 2020 Campus Connections mentors group photo
Campus Connections student leadership team gather for a photo in Spring 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the program moved to a virtual format. Front: Emily Schuman and Freja Holmstroem. Back: Brice Lange, Lani Lenard, Jon Worthing, Neha Prabhu, and Zayne Hoyland.

Mentoring young adolescents and giving students at Colorado State University a chance to lead by example is what makes the Campus Connections program special. The Department of Human Development and Family studies is now offering students who serve as mentors in the program the possibility to earn a certificate in youth mentoring. The certificate is an opportunity for students to make a change in the lives of adolescents while gaining valuable professional skills.

Campus Connections strives to create a safe and welcoming environment for mentors and mentees and prepares students for jobs and graduate school with professional and personal skills. The program was launched in 2010 and is a nationally recognized and award-winning program focused on promoting resilience and life success for at-risk youth. The youth mentoring certificate offers student mentors a way to earn a credential as recognition for their work in this area.

“Students in the youth mentoring certificate program will be able to critically examine issues concerning youth and adolescent development and effectively apply theories of mentoring,” said Jen Krafchick, a faculty member in the department and coordinator for the Campus Connections program. “They will also learn how power, privilege, bias, and systemic oppression impact young peoples lived experiences. In addition to learning about youth, with more involvement in Campus Connections, students will also develop an understand the inner workings of youth mentoring programs, including youth recruitment, case management, mentor training, leadership development, and community partnerships.”

Getting recognition for serving the community

With a large number of students interested in pursuing a career with non-profit organizations, education, social services, and the legal system, the youth mentoring certificate now formally recognizes students participation in the program. Some students have been involved with the program for their entire undergraduate careers. The youth mentoring certificate requires a completion of nine credits that includes being a Campus Connections mentor, mentor coach, research assistant, or completing an internship with Campus Connections.

“I really love the mission of the program to serve youth in our community who need support ranging from academic to social to therapy, or who just want to make friends,” said Hannah Hatheway, a third-year student majoring in natural resource management and earning a certificate in Campus Connections. “The certificate will be a small way for me to sum up the skills I’ve learned. Most importantly, it will represent the positive impact our program has on a wide range of youths.”

When asked about what her favorite part about Campus Connections is, Sinclaire Vandervoot, a third-year student majoring in human development and family studies and working on the certificate, said “It is incredibly uplifting to see positive outcomes and bonds form over such short time, and the work absolutely uplifts and carries the students and staff as well.”

Campus Connections has had students from almost 100 different majors from all of the colleges at CSU, and all students are welcome to participate in Campus Connections and to earn the certificate in youth mentoring. If interested in earning the certificate, contact Jen Krafchick or your academic adviser.

“Campus Connections has helped me to grow my leadership skills,” said Jessica Jeong, a fourth-year human development and family studies student and in the certificate program. “I love that I have been able to be a mentor working one-on-one with a mentee, while also getting to get to know a whole ‘family’ and other young students.”

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies is a part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.