AAP’s Alaka‘i Program helps first-year students

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Fua'amamata Tufele

Cherry Joy Sercena (left) works with mentee Colleen Eliugmai.

This year, Chaminade University’s Academic Achievement Program, AAP, implemented a new mentor program designed to help first-year underclassmen. The Alaka‘i Program gives new students the opportunity to meet different people and create new relationships with upperclassmen that will support them throughout their college experience.

Fua’amamata Tufele, better known as Mata, is the Alaka‘i Program’s director and is new to Chaminade. Tufele coordinates the program’s 10 mentors and 20 mentees. She pairs each mentor with their mentee according to major, minor, or other similarities.

Students involved in the Alaka‘i Program participate for the duration of the academic school year. The program benefits mentors as well as mentees by learning from one another. The program teaches leadership skills, responsibility, and commitment.

Mentor Cherry Joy Sercena, a senior, enjoys being in the Alaka‘i Program. She has three mentees and has created an “available” relationship with each of them. Her door is always open, whether it’s through email, phone calls or at school. Each Alaka‘i and his or her mentee must meet for at least 30 minutes each month in the AAP and attend a cultural event or workshop coordinated by the AAP.

Sercena has been learning how to be a leader and a resource to her mentees. Each of Sercena’s mentees is different. She’s learned to be more aware and interact with them on their level.

“It’s taught me to be flexible in a way, what works for one doesn’t work for another,” Sercena said.

The Alaka‘i Program is entirely voluntary, and in order to become an Alaka‘i, one must show interest in the program and fill out an application. Then the applicant goes through an interview process to be selected for the program.

“They’ve (The AAP) done so much for me,” Sercena said. “When I was approached to be an Alaka’i, I took the opportunity to give back.”

Sercena has been involved in the AAP program since she was a freshman in 2010 and takes pleasure in being an Alaka‘i.

Tufele requires each Alaka‘i to fill out a track sheet to determine the type of meeting they have, as well as the time and date that they meet. The tracking sheet states exactly what the meeting was about. It needs to be turned in to the AAP at the end of each month to be reviewed in a one-on-one meeting with Tufele and the Alaka‘i.

The Alaka‘i program is diligently working toward becoming certified by the College Reading & Learning Association. CRLA is a professional development resource designed to enhance college professionals’ academic success. With CRLA certification, the AAP program will be able to provide proper training to its mentors. Each mentor will be able to receive International Mentor Training Program Certification (IMTPC), which will help to improve the Alaka‘i Program as a whole. The certification will enhance the mentor’s resume. The AAP is working to complete the certification by this upcoming summer.

Each mentor and mentee at the end of the program is mandated to provide feedback to the pilot program. Feedback from the Alaka‘i and mentees will help the program with improvements for years to come. Tufele and AAP plan to implement the Alaka‘i Program yearly.

“I love working with students, it’s a great fit for me,” Tufele said. “I’m definitely grateful and blessed.”