This fall, the Women’s Center will be launching a new program for women who are a part of the Charlotte W. Newcombe Scholarship program, . Today, adult students comprise a large portion of the enrollment at most colleges and universities, with a majority of these non-traditional students being mature women. In 1981, the Newcombe Foundation created scholarship programs for returning or second-career women which enable recipients to avoid excessive reliance on loans as they manage the costs of tuition, housing, and caring for family members. This year, 12 women at UMBC received scholarships, including myself.
When I first transferred to UMBC from Howard Community College in the spring of 2012, I faced a huge adjustment. Not only was I a decade older than most of my classmates, but I felt as if everyone was speaking a different language. UMBC sure likes an acronym! For that entire semester, I only knew how to get from my car to my classes. I rarely ventured beyond that path, not even once entering the library. I remember trying to google ‘mainstreet’ and ‘breezeway’ because they weren’t on the campus map! I could see how it would be possible to finish my degree and graduate without ever engaging in any community activities, but that wasn’t the experience I wanted for myself.
My own experiences as a transfer student made me realize that we needed a better way for non-traditional students to create their own community and support systems. My second semester at UMBC, I became an Honors College Intern for the Women’s Center. Through this position I started working with the Returning Women’s Group at the Center and tried to figure out new ways to create a community for us. After much research and talking to other students and staff about mentor programs on campus, I asked Jess if I could work on designing a Mentor Program for Returning Women. She gave me the green light and the Returning Women Mentoring Program was born.
The program will match women who have returned to college with other women facing similar situations. The Women’s Center will host several events for the group throughout the semester, inviting mentor pairs to come together as a larger group for activities.