Upper Girls to Pilot New Mentor Program Focusing on Female Leadership

25 Junior girls will partake in a pilot mentorship program this spring. The program consists of 21 Upper girls and 25 Junior girls, and its purpose is to encourage Junior girls to take leadership positions in the PA community through the support of Upper mentors, who already serve as leaders on campus. On Tuesday, the Juniors and their Upper mentors met for the first time. At the meeting, the Juniors were assigned to their respective mentors. A group of Upper girls who collaborated with Becky Sykes, Associate Head of School, found the program last winter. Kathleen Dalton and Tony Rotundo, Instructors in History and Co-Heads of the Brace Center for Gender Studies, were also involved in the execution of the program. Sykes said, “[The program] came from the girls. Last year a group of girls met with Alana Rush and Malin [Adams, Former School President]. The group decided they wanted to get back together and asked me if I would help them to gather again. They decided they wanted to do a mentoring program, it was their idea.” Sykes said, “This program will be really helpful to Juniors, and they have three years to benefit from it.” Sykes contacted the Brace Center, seeking support for the pilot program. Dalton said, “As the Co-Director of the Brace Center I wanted to support this great idea. This program is like a big sister program. Young women haven’t always been numerous in leadership roles.” “We had a speaker, Jenifer Lawless, she said she studied women participation in elected office and that most elected women start small,” she added. “The thing females need to do is work their way up the pipeline. A great way to get started is by running for Lower or Junior representative. This program will show Junior girls how to make a place for themselves and how to take leadership roles,” Dalton continued. Sykes said, “This is very simply a pilot program. Thinking about leadership, many girls are unsure, but group encouragement helps girls run for positions of responsibility.” Kristina Rex ’11, one of the mentors, said, “This will help to stop the lack of communication between the freshman and uppers. It will mostly be for the classes of ’12 and ’14 next year. This is just a test run of the program, but I am really excited to be a part of it.” “ At this point we are making it up as we go along,” said Sykes. Dalton said, “Male leadership is traditional, girls need to get into different types of leadership. The upper girls that decided to help with this program are wonderful. They all volunteered to try and help out.” Olivia Bren ’13, one of the Juniors participating in the program, said, “I responded to the email because I wanted the opportunity to learn and explore the leadership opportunities at PA.” Bren continued, “I love my mentor. She’s so cool, and I look forward to meeting with her throughout spring term.” Sykes said, “The program is beneficial to day students as well as they are not exposed to the prefect dynamic. Many kids say that prefects play a huge role in their Andover experience and hopefully these uppers can also benefit the junior girls.” “The next step is to have a joint meeting, the girls have talked about their expectations. The mentors will meet with their juniors over meals, talk over email, but there will also be an important group dynamic,” Sykes continued.