Wheeling Jesuit University mentoring program blasts off again

WHEELING — Wheeling Jesuit University is marking the 15th year of its H.E.S.S. mentoring program.

The H.E.S.S. — Help Enrich Someone Special — program brings middle and high school students from Wheeling area schools to WJU and pairs them with current WJU students. The WJU students serve as mentors throughout the school year. Each weekly H.E.S.S. session typically runs from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. every Wednesday and includes time for educational activities, homework help and having fun.

“The primary objective of the H.E.S.S. Program is to use positive, supportive role models and educational programming to improve or develop more effective personal, social, and academic skills in our mentees,” said Colleen Ryan Mayrand, director of the WJU Service for Social Action Center. Ryan Mayrand is responsible for selecting a robust team of WJU student mentors for the program every year.

The H.E.S.S. Mentoring Program provides each participant the opportunity to grow and develop intellectually and socially.

Anne Frankovitch, a senior education major from Weirton, added, “H.E.S.S. is an amazing program in so many ways – my favorite part is the opportunity that we have as mentors to see the kids grow and change into their own wonderful and individual people. They bring so much joy each week to all of the mentors. As I am also studying to become a middle school and high school teacher, H.E.S.S. is impacting my future in such a direct and positive way. Interacting with the kids each week allows me to see their incredible talents and just how much they can shine when those talents are recognized.”

Once again this year, the mentees will be supported by their mentor in learning opportunities outside the traditional classroom experiences. Faculty and student volunteers from WJU academic departments like chemistry, education, psychology and various health sciences programs have provided these learning activities in the past and will continue to do so this year. Other events include a college major and careers fair, opportunities to see WJU theater performances, various holiday parties, and an annual field trip to fun and interactive learning sites like the Carnegie Science Center, the Columbus Zoo, and other regional parks and museums.

Ryan Mayrand continued, “H.E.S.S provides a meaningful and transformative service experience for our WJU students which helps enrich their college education and forms them as ‘Men and Women for and with Others.’ Being a mentor is a huge responsibility and is so much more than just helping with homework and playing games. Year after year I see our students grow through getting to know their mentees. I see them understand what it truly means to have a Jesuit education.”

Many recent WJU graduates who were H.E.S.S. mentors have moved directly into careers or graduate programs, particularly in education and social services. Former mentors are using the skills they developed and nurtured as H.E.S.S. mentors in schools and service agencies not just in the Wheeling area but across the country in places like Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Baltimore. Kailee Latocha, a member of the WJU Class of 2018, is now teaching in Philadelphia as part of the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education Program. Latocha served as a H.E.S.S. mentor all four years that she attended WJU, and served as the head mentor for the program during her senior year.

Interested students who would like to know more about becoming a H.E.S.S. mentor should contact Colleen Ryan Mayrand in the WJU SSAC Office, ASC 112D, (304) 243-8728, cryan@wju.edu.