Class I: 2012 – 2013



The ISE mentoring program experienced a highly successful pilot year during the 2012-13 academic year. ISE served 38 mentees and each was paired with a mentor who was either a member of the faculty, staff, or alumni. Additionally, the mentees were offered programming that addressed both social, educational, and skill development building. At various times throughout the program, ISE mentoring staff conducted both online and paper assessments of the program from mentors and mentees. In addition, mentees were requested to fill out an open-ended mid-point reflection halfway throughout the program. Finally, focus groups were conducted at the conclusion for both mentors and mentees. Extremely positive feedback was received throughout the entire length of the program.

Overall, the program was extremely successful. It is clear that many of the mentoring relationships that were formed will last for many years. It is the goal of the program to assist students in their transition to college life, both academically and culturally. This program was highly successful in supporting this through its two-pronged approach: 1) a one-on-one mentoring relationship with RISD faculty, staff, and alumni and 2) skill development and cultural programming.


Annual Report

The following report outlines the creation, implementation and assessment of the pilot year of the ISE mentoring program. The program sought to impact the academic transition and cultural success of first-year, underrepresented students at RISD. Overall, the pilot year of this program proved to be a large success with positive feedback received from both mentors and mentees alike. Due to the large, initial enrollment in the program by students, we were forced to split the original program into two. The OISS Rising Program focused on international students and the ISE mentoring program focused on domestic students only. From 69 initial students that enrolled in the program, about half were domestic with the remaining being international. In an effort to serve the students better, Kate Sacco, Associate Director of International Student Services oversaw the OISS Rising Program. This report will focus primarily on the ISE mentoring program, which serviced domestic students only.

ISE ultimately served 38 mentees and each was paired with a mentor. Additionally, the mentees were offered programming that addressed both social, educational, and skill development building. Again, the feedback was very positive and as we prepare to transition into the second year of the program, we will mostly be focusing on some tweaks for next year. In a nutshell, the two most significant changes for year two include 1) reviewing incoming class lists and targeting specific underrepresented student communities with invitations, 2) putting a premium on building cultural competency and a sense of community among the mentees who participate in the program. While the program was successful in transitioning students to college life and providing a much-needed one on one approach to navigating the first year, we realized that little in the way of community building was occurring among the mentees as a group.

We hope that next year we can create a space that will allow this type of community building and cultural awareness to occur and connect students to their larger community at RISD. This type of connection will serve students well for the rest of their time here. There is much support that can be gained when an individual connects with the community they identify with, especially if they identify with an underrepresented community. A bi-product of the mentoring program was increased collaboration among the offices of Intercultural Student Engagement (ISE), Center for Student Involvement (CSI), the Office of International Student Services (OISS), and Residence Life. Through this year’s collaboration, many exciting things are in the works that will address an even wider audience of incoming students. This enhanced programming will also allow ISE to enhance the mentoring program and allow us to go deeper in the way of cultural identity and community while still having all incoming students served through collaborative efforts by the other offices. Finally, this collaboration allows ISE to take advantage of the many intersections that occur both in regards to the new student experience and transition to college while also doing important cultural work and providing individualized attention for students from underrepresented communities.

This report outlines the program structure, reports on the results from various assessments conducted throughout the program, student success and statistics, and future recommendations for next year.


Program Design

Overview and Outcomes

The Rhode Island School of Design’s mentoring program was designed and implemented by the Office of Intercultural Student Engagement (ISE). The program is designed to engage and connect incoming, first year and underrepresented students to the RISD community, both academically and socially. While RISD remains the premier art and design school in the United States, ISE wishes to make sure that all students who are accepted and wish to learn here have a positive and impactful experience that facilitates a transformative education. Due to the structure of the foundation studies year, not all students are engaged in a way that allows them to achieve to the best of their potential. As a result, these students have the potential to feel isolated and inferior to fellow colleagues. This causes students to retreat, which only exacerbates their poor performance academically and their likelihood of withdrawing from the college.

The RISD|ISE mentoring program has been designed to provide students with a two-pronged approach to supporting their needs. The first is the pairing of each student with a mentor for the duration of the program. A mentor in the program could be a member of the RISD faculty/staff or an alumnus. Pairing each student with a mentor truly allows for the student to receive individualized attention and one-on-one support. The second part of the program is the creation of a skills development programming series. ISE has identified the most common struggles that underrepresented students at RISD face during their transition to college. The programming series allows for skill development and confidence building within these areas through a fun, casual, and inviting medium.

Having the RISD|ISE Mentoring program allows the institution to be pro-active in supporting the students that bring diversity to our campus- diversity that we strongly value. Rather than continually being reactive often times when it may be too late, we are helping RISD to affirm its commitment to the inclusion and success of all students who choose to learn at this institution. It also provides ISE with a working avenue to support struggling students that we may only discover later in the semester, by having an immediate place of support for them to enter.


Through a mentoring relationship and skill development programming, first-year students will:

  1. Ease their transitional experience from high school to college

  2. Make connections academically, socially, and through extra-curricular involvement at RISD

  3. Receive direct support from a member of the RISD faculty, staff, or alumni

  4. Gain a sense of self-efficacy as an underrepresented student in a fairly homogenous campus environment

Missions and Goals

It is the mission of the RISD | ISE mentoring program to impact the academic transition and cultural success of first-year, underrepresented students at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Six specific goals have been developed in order to fulfill this mission:

  1. To assist first-year and underrepresented students transition to college and connect them to the RISD community in a meaningful way that allows them to have an overall positive and impactful RISD experience

  2. To provide engaging programs and tailored workshops that foster skill development for first-year students

  3. To provide support to first-year students who are first in their family to pursue an academically creative degree that identify as underrepresented and/or first-generation

  4. To illuminate and explore the many intersections of identity and to help students embrace and express their unique identity in positive and creative ways

  5. To provide RISD faculty, staff, and alumni with an opportunity to guide students as they develop skills for success inside and outside of the classroom/studio and beyond their time at RISD

  6. To leverage the strength of community in establishing meaningful relationships between students, faculty, staff, and alumni


The RISD | ISE mentoring program had the following organization to ensure its proper functioning, maintenance of records, and superb services:

Christopher R. Lauth, Diversity Coordinator: The Diversity Coordinator, a professional position within ISE, will serve as the point person for all inquiries regarding the mentoring program in general. This position also directly oversees the ISE mentoring program. Any additional resources or other needs of support by the mentors may contact this person for assistance.

Diandre Fuentes, Textiles ’13, Peer-Coordinator (ISE): The Peer-Coordinator in ISE will also serve as a point person for all inquiries regarding the ISE mentoring program, especially inquiries from students/ mentees.

Kate Sacco, Associate Director of OISS: The Associate Director of OISS primarily oversees the OISS Mentoring Program and directs the peer-mentors in the program.

Mackenzie Gelina, Textiles ’13, Peer-Coordinator (OISS): The Peer-Coordinator in OISS will also serve as a point person for all inquiries regarding the OISS mentoring program, especially inquiries from students mentees.

Tony Johnson, Director of ISE: The Director of ISE also remains actively involved in the mentoring program and may also be contacted for additional support/ assistance.


The mentoring program for the 2012-2013 academic year will run from September-February, including the fall semester and wintersession.


Each student who participated in the mentoring program was paired with a mentor. Mentors and mentees were appropriately matched by ISE using data from both the mentee registration form and the mentor application. ISE left the scheduling of mentoring up to the mentor/ mentee to find a time and a location that was suitable for their needs. ISE strongly recommended that these meetings be arranged on a bi-weekly (every other week) basis. We felt that for the majority of students, this was the appropriate amount of contact. Perhaps meetings  were more frequent in the beginning and then gradually became infrequent. In addition and/or in place of traditional on-campus meetings, ISE periodically offered unique opportunities for mentors and mentees to meet off campus over a specific activity. These activities included such things as attending dinner at a local restaurant, ice-skating, etc. Most of these opportunities had limited spaces for attendees and was offered on a first-come, first-serve basis, and or at the discretion of ISE mentoring staff to ensure equity in the offerings for all program participants.


The program offered a programming series that featured social, educational, and specific skill development competencies for the mentees. This programming was intentional in its design to support students’ social transition into the RISD community as well as equip them with specific skill sets needed to be successful at college both academically and personally.

Mentor/ Mentee Selection and Pairing Process

To enroll in the program, students had to fill out an online enrollment form that featured a series of questions that asked about their personality, work style, their feelings regarding starting college and some of their personal interests and hobbies. These questions aided us in pairing them with mentors who also had to fill out a similar questionnaire when they formally volunteered to serve as a mentor in the program. The Diversity Coordinator and the Director of Intercultural Student Engagement reviewed the forms and paired students based on their review and recommendations. Nearly 100% of participants in the program, both mentor and mentee, reported that they were extremely pleased with their pairing. What follows is the information communicated to mentors and mentees in our recruitment efforts.


All incoming, first-year students who identified as an underrepresented student was encouraged to enroll in the program upon their decision to attend RISD. The earlier a student registered for the program, the better ISE was able to pair the student with the most appropriate mentor to fit their unique needs and preferences. Early registration ensured the availability of mentors and a more complete experience. The program hosted many time-appropriate events and workshops throughout the year; therefore, it was highly encouraged that students enroll in the program as soon as possible. Note: In some unique circumstances, students were permitted to register for the program later in the semester. Furthermore, if it was recommended that a student who was not enrolled could truly benefit from the program, ISE permited the enrollment, assuming an appropriate mentor was available. ISE did maintain a list of alternative mentors who were not initially assigned a mentee from the start or whose mentee may have left the program.


All current RISD faculty, staff, and alumni were welcome to apply to become a mentor for the program. All who were interested in serving as mentors contacted ISE for an application that could be completed online via a private link provided by ISE staff upon their initial contact.

2012-13 Mentor Representatives:
  • Staff: 73%

  • Faculty: 27%

  • Alumni: 7%

Damion Vania, Clinical Counselor

Jennifer Dunleavy, Director of Auxiliary Services

Ken Horri, Professor, Foundation Studies

Kate Sacco, Associate Director, International Student Services

Patricia Barbeeito, Associate Professor, English Department

Joanne Stryker, Dean of Foundation Studies

Katherine Scanga, International Education Manager

Phillip Oliveira, Assistant Director, ResLife

Madhu Vishnu, Administrative Coordinator, Intercultural Student Engagement

Hansy Better Barraza, Associate Professor, Architecture

Eric Dusseault, Area Coordinator, ResLife

Tony Johnson, Director, Intercultural Student Engagement

Sarah Spencer, Associate Dean of Students

Lindsay French, Associate Professor, Social Science Department

Jennifer Prewitt-Freilino, Assistant Professor, Psychology

Libby Rodriguez, Academic Data Processor

Gina Borromeo, Curator, Ancient Art

Brian Janes, Director, ResLife

Mark Pompelia, Visual Resources Librarian

Jeung-Hwa Park, Critic, Faculty

Anthony Mam, Residence Director, ResLife

Wini Lambrecht, Senior Lecturer, Faculty

Johnathan Highfield, Professor, Literary Arts & Studies

Jennifer Liese, Director, Writing Center

Karen Harris, Internship Coordinator, Career Center

Jerri Drummond, Dean of Students

McDonald Wright, Technical Assistant III

Greg Victory, Director, Career Center

Khipra Nichols, Associate Professor, Industrial Design

Bill Cline, Computer Laboratory Technician

Dean Abanilla, Computer Laboratory Technician

Don Morton, Director, Center for Student Involvement

Mairead Bryne, Professor, Literary Arts and Studies

Mara Hermano, Executive Director, Strategic Planning & Academic Initiatives

Jessica Raffaele, Assistant Director, Orientation & New Student Programs

Andy Jacques, Assistant Director, Leadership Programs


Programming Series

At the beginning of the year, ISE arranged a formal reception as the official start of the program where the new mentoring cohort could all come together and meet their mentor/ mentee for the first time. Additionally, they learned more about the structure of the program and met the ISE mentoring program staff. Prior to this event, ISE also hosted a mentor orientation, which provided additional resources to mentors and answered any questions they might have had from the start.

Throughout the program, ISE hosted a programming series that featured special events and tailored workshops to facilitate skill development of the new students as they transitioned to college. This provided students with fun, engaging and thoughtful events to attend that not only fostered skill development, but also allowed for students to meet new people, make meaningful connections with their peers and other on-campus personnel. It also afforded them an opportunity for a well deserved break from the daily grind of rigorous academics. The areas of skill development and awareness that the programming series sought to address included, but were not limited to the following:

  • Budgeting/ Financial Aid

  • Campus Resources/ Navigating College

  • Wellness (Mental, Physical, Spiritual)

  • Cultural Success/ Community

  • LGBTQ Awareness

  • Cultural/ Identity Expression

  • Academic Success

  • Spiritual/ Religious Awareness, Growth, and Continuing Practice at College

  • Self-Advocacy

  • Time Management

  • Final Project Success

Attendance to the programs by the mentees was expected and optional for mentors.

2012-13 Mentoring Program Series

  • Meet N’ Greet with Jamie Washington – As a part of an incentive and special privilege for mentees, we tried to obtain the mentees exclusive access with popular speakers that visit campus from time to time. This event provided a “backstage pass” to Jamie Washington and also served as the mentee orientation

  • RMCC Annual Block Party - The annual gathering of the RISD Multicultural Community (RMCC) is held in September each year and this year the mentees in the program were invited to attend. RMCC is a group composed of RISD alumni of color. They were also dedicated to supporting current RISD students of color in their journey through RISD and beyond in the career world. They are currently working on their own mentoring program for current students

  • Opening Reception- This event served as the official start of the ISE Mentoring Program for the new cohort of students. This year we had over 100 students, faculty, staff, and RMCC alumni present to kick off the program. The evening featured a formal dinner and entertainment by the ROOTS Jazz Band and spoken word/poetry performance by RISD faculty and students. This program also included participants of the OISS Mentoring Program.

  • Time Management with Bradley Carney- Visiting presenter Bradley Carney is from Pratt Institute and has designed a time management approach that is tailored to artists and designers that uses visual tools to allow students to properly manage their time.

  • Ian Harvie- Openly trans man comedian, Ian Harvie visited campus to speak about his experiences being a transgender man doing standup in America. With praises from popular comedian, Margaret Cho, Ian also performed part of his stand up routine.

  • Class Registration Party– Co-sponsored with the Registrar’s office, Allison Sherman presented on how to use Web Advisor to register for classes and also answered questions by students on which may be the best classes to explore during their first wintersession according to their potential major interests.

  • Artist’s Ball- ISE raffled off 5 free tickets to Artist’s Ball for mentees who might not have the finances to afford a ticket without assistance.

  • Take the Cake: Budgeting and Financial Aid Workshop- Guest presenter and CPA, Kareem Kanston presented on how to create a budget that will serve students well during their entire time at RISD and highlighted future college costs tha they should think about moving forward. Additional material was presented on scholarships and how to get the most of their financial aid package.

  • Finals Destination-A weeklong wellness initiative, the program sought to provide students with stress-reducing activities during the busy week leading up to finals week. ISE was fortunate to collaborate with CSI and ResLife on this series and was able to offer it to the entire campus. The series included the following programs: Massage/ Aromatherapy, Heavy Petting/ Therapy Dogs & Cats, Stress Yell & Pizza, Prayer & Meditation Around the World, and Pillow Fight & Snacks.

  • Ice Skating- Mentees and mentors were invited for a night of ice skating and hot chocolate at the Bank of America rink downtown

  • MLK Celebration Series 2012- Mentees were strongly encouraged to attend all of the festivities that were a part of the MLK celebration series; a large number of our mentees attended the opening reception which featured a community dinner and gospel performance.

  • Crit Talk– This program featured a panel of senior students that shared their personal experiences regarding critiques by faculty and fellow classmates. Many spoke about their feelings going into their first RISD critique and how they learned to get the most out of future crits. Discussion included how they handled a particularly negative crit, the right questions to ask to get the best feedback, and different styles of crits depending on major and department.

  • Closing Celebration- This program marked the formal end to our program and a celebration of the mentees’ successful completion of their first year at RISD. All faculty, staff, students, and alumni had a good time. The program featured DJ Andy Morris, a presentation by visiting artist and RISD alum Holly Gaboriault, and floral arrangement activity between mentor/mentee and a dinner catered by AS220. The event was also held off-campus at AS220’s Black Box Theater, which proved to be the perfect venue for this intimate event. The focus was placed on the numerous opportunities and local artists from various underrepresented communities that students can meet and take advantage of in Rhode Island. Additional emphasis was placed on how artists can give back to their community.

    Follow us on Social Media!

    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Instagram