Thank You, Futures Initiative

January 11, 2018

"Becoming a member of the FI Peer Mentoring Program is one of the best decisions I have made," writes Cherishe Cumma in AAC&U's Diversity & Democracy journal.

Cherishe Cumma (far left) with CUNY students who participate in the GC's Futures Initiative Peer Mentoring Program

The fall 2017 issue of the Association of American Colleges & Universities' Diversity & Democracy journal features an essay by Cherishe Cumma, who writes in glowing terms about her experience as a peer mentor with the Graduate Center's Futures Initiative (FI).

"Becoming a member of the FI Peer Mentoring Program is one of the best decisions I have made," writes Cumma, a student at New York City College of Technology.

In 2016, Cumma was one of 30 undergraduates from 13 colleges throughout the City University of New York (CUNY) selected as an FI peer mentor. Research has shown that peer mentoring fosters deeper learning than traditional teaching methods, and in early 2015 the Futures Initiative received funding from the Teagle Foundation to launch its program.
Cumma and her fellow mentors started the program with a two-day summer workshop, and once the school year began, they gathered monthly to learn from each other and engage in student-centered activities and practices to assist their peers across the CUNY campuses and beyond.
"In addition to offering a strong foundation for mentoring, the program has provided academic opportunities that have propelled me to new levels," Cumma writes. She learned copyediting skills and served as an undergraduate editor of Structuring Equality: A Handbook for Student-Centered Learning (Ashton 2017).

With the FI team and her fellow peer mentors, she found a family -- one that, in her words, "pushes its members to see their true potential."

Cumma's essay came about by invitation from the editors of Diversity & Democracy, following a poster presentation at the AAC&U annual meeting by Lauren Melendez, who directs the program, and FI doctoral fellow Mike Rifino, who co-directs the program with another fellow, Kashema Hutchinson.

"Am I proud? You bet!" said Graduate Center Professor Cathy Davidson (English), who is the founding director of the Futures Initiative, about Cumma's piece and the difference FI has made in her life. 

Since becoming an FI peer mentor, Cumma has been admitted to the CUNY Pipeline Program, which is based at the Graduate Center, and is preparing to earn a doctorate in English with a concentration in African American or African diaspora studies. Ultimately, she aspires to be a journalist, and the essay was a welcome early step along her path.
Learn more about the Futures Initiative and its mentoring programs