What is Plexus?
The word “plexus” is taken from the Latin plectere, which means a network of interwoven parts. Juniata College’s Plexus program is a physical support network comprised of faculty, peer mentors, and staff that help to enrich the students’ experience by assisting in their academic and social transition to college and the surrounding Huntingdon community. Plexus represents various interwoven, intersectional identities that have become a community of support and scholarship.
What is the Plexus Fellowship Program?
The Plexus Fellowship is a student-focused institutional support program run through the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI), which offers support for traditionally underrepresented students. The Fellowship is guided by an intentional goal to motivate and assist students toward achieving academic and social success.
Plexus Fellowship participants are paired with a peer mentor, and are also offered faculty mentoring. They participate in leadership skill development workshops and retreats.
Short-term outcomes include a strong mentoring relationship which will allow students to navigate the often confusing and intimidating world of college life. This relationship will grant students greater knowledge of and access to resources available on campus that will help them realize their full potential. Furthermore, we feel these efforts will enhance retention and graduation rates for student success.
In its essence, the Juniata College Plexus Fellowship program challenges our peers to develop skills to achieve success by promoting self-advocacy, self-empowerment and self-care through partnership, participation and persistence.
What Do We Do?
All participants in the Plexus Fellowship program are required to engage in several in-house activities, as well as campus-wide events. These include:
- Inbound: All Plexus Fellows are required to participate in the Plexus Inbound which will be held in August.
- Retreats: Mentors and mentees have (1) weekend/overnight team-building retreat per semester at an off-campus location.
- Workshops: Faculty and staff from various departments and on-campus resourceful services conduct sessions focused on academic readiness, career exploration, civic engagement, finances, leadership development, service learning and holistic wellness. Past topics have included goal setting, personal financial management, time management and study skills, conflict resolution, resume building, public speaking & presentations and stress management.
- Outings: 1-2 times per month, both mentors and mentees can participate in activities that serve as opportunities to enhance the bond amongst the group. This may include Movies & Munchies night, Halloween pumpkin carving, glow-in-the-dark bowling, dinner with President Troha, snow tubing or lunch at an ethnic cuisine restaurant in State College. Fellowship participants are obligated to meet with their faculty mentor twice monthly.
- One-on-Ones: Mentors meet with their respective mentee for a minimum of 1 hour per week, or up to 5 hours per month, outside of scheduled workshops and outings.
Becoming a Mentee
Based on recommendations from Enrollment counselors, EDI invites incoming freshmen to participate in the Fellowship.
Initial criteria for immersion into the program include, but are not limited to, being an individual who is:
- A First-generation college student
- Pell grant eligible
Additional considerations include:
- MALANA (Multiracial, African descent/black, Latino, Asian, Native American)
- Permanent residence outside of Pennsylvania
- Large, urban hometown
- LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning)
- Religious minorities
- Students with disabilities
Who Are Our Mentors?
Plexus Fellowship mentors are upperclass students who exemplify what it means to be a Juniata Eagle – someone who is interdisciplinary, knowledgeable, engaged, ethical and multicultural. Mentors are selected through an application, recommendation and interview process. Our mentors are active and engaged in the Juniata community and have a desire to lend a comforting, helping hand to first year students as they transition and adjust academically and informally, in their social circles outside of the classroom.
Mentors participate in trainings that focus on their role in developing a relationship with the mentee, the art of appreciative inquiry, mindful empathy and active constructive responding. Plexus mentors are paid through federal work study.
For more information, please contact the Plexus Program Coordinator:
Cynthia Merriwether-deVries Associate Professor of Sociology and Assistant Director of EDI
Office: Good Hall G214