School Peer Mentoring
Verity Hawley is a Medical Student at The University of Leeds, after gaining three A*s and one A at A level. She took a year out between third and fourth year to complete an intercalated degree, and recieved a First Class Honours degree in Clinical Sciences (Molecular Medicine), winning a prize for achieving the highest mark in her degree. She has interviewed at the Leeds Medical School Multiple Mini Interviews (MMIs) for the past three years.
In this blog, Verity outlines her experiences helping younger students in a mentoring scheme.
‘I met up with them once per week…’
Whilst I was studying for my A levels, I got involved with my school’s peer mentoring scheme. It involved being paired with a year 7 student who was struggling with their reading and I met up with them once per week to give some extra educational support. We would meet first thing in the morning, along with several other paired student couples, whilst the rest of the school was in our designated 20 minute morning registration session. My role predominantly involved listening to the student reading passages from lots of different books, and helping them if they didn’t recognise any words or were struggling with the meaning of some of the sentences.
‘I could see their confidence growing…’
I’ll admit that I didn’t really know what to expect when I signed up to the scheme, and, slightly selfishly, part of the initial reason that I agreed to get involved was so that I could put it on my Personal Statement. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the whole experience and found it very rewarding. Over the year that I was paired with the student, I could see their confidence growing, both with reading and in general, and though that could not be solely attributed to my input, it made me feel very proud and satisfied that what I was doing was a worthwhile pursuit. Furthermore, although the main aim of the pairing was to improve the student’s reading, we developed a friendly relationship throughout the course of the year and I believe this allowed the student to feel able to confide in me any other issues that they were having with school, friends or life in general.
‘I would keep an eye out for the student around school…’
At one point the student was having problems with another student in their year who was being unpleasant towards them. As the student felt able to talk to me, we discussed the issues and decided on the best course of action to go about dealing with the problem, which ended up being organising a meeting between the two students and their form tutor in order to discuss the problems in a controlled way. After this, I would keep an eye out for the student around school and always said hello if I passed them in the corridor, to help to give them extra support and the knowledge that there was someone older who was looking out for them at all times.
‘It is a great learning experience for you…’
I would highly recommend getting involved in similar mentoring schemes if an opportunity arises, be it at school, or in the local community. It is a great way to get to know somebody new, and to use your skills to help somebody else to flourish, whatever situation it may be in. A lot of schools and colleges run mentoring or buddy schemes that are not specific to reading, but are for general pastoral support, especially for younger students who may be struggling with bullying or problems at home. Getting involved with a scheme like this is both a great learning experience for you, a good way to give something back to somebody in need and also looks excellent on your Personal Statement as you can demonstrate that you are a caring person and willing to voluntarily give up your time in order to help others. And if your school doesn’t currently have some sort of scheme like this, then now might be a great opportunity to suggest the idea to your school’s council or educational support team; not only could this help lots of people, but you would look very proactive by starting it up!
A career as a doctor is challenging and requires dedication and perseverance. There will be hurdles along the way, but remember you have a very exciting career ahead of you and that is the ultimate goal to aim for. Good luck! If you want to talk to one of our consultants about your options, we will be happy to talk to you. Ring us on +44 (0) 207 399 1990.