METAS Mentoring Program: Professional and Career Development for Latinx Students

As a First-Generation student, I felt lost and unsure of what path to take when I began my journey here at the University of Connecticut. I was welcomed with open arms into METAS, which is the Puerto Rican and Latin American Cultural Center’s Latinx-based mentorship program, and that forever changed my time at UConn. I received invaluable guidance and support from my peer mentors that aided in my career and professional development. I would like to dedicate this space to discussing the different opportunities METAS offers to students who are looking to start or progress their career journey, and highlighting the importance of culturally competent and responsive programs like METAS to the UConn community.

METAS matches Mentees and Mentors based on programs of study, and interests and is based on the area of support the Mentee is looking to get guidance in. Through their membership in METAS, both Mentees and Mentors are a part of the larger cohort. The METAS cohort is a community that uplifts and empowers members through a network of support. This cohort is strengthened by yearly retreats that develop Career Competencies such as leadership, global/intercultural fluency, and foster self-development and growth by exploring what strengths, talents, and experiences each individual brings through Dr. Yosso’s Cultural Wealth Model.

Concepts and lessons like Dr. Yosso’s Cultural Wealth Model that aid in student success are offered through a 1-credit course for Mentees in the Spring semester, and a 3-credit Latinos, Leadership and Mentoring course for Mentors in the Fall semester.

In addition to the retreats, course offerings and cohort support, METAS Coordinators host events throughout the year to build relationships within the cohort and also aid in the career and professional development of members. Past events included collaborations with the Academic Achievement Center, First Year Programs, Office of Student Financial Aid Services and La Comunidad Intelectual Learning Community, among others. The work of METAS Coordinators, in collaboration with professional PRLACC staff, has resulted in a thriving program that has yielded student successes such as that of 3rd-year student and METAS Mentor Nayeli Contreras who took the Latinos, Leadership and Mentoring course. “Throughout the mentorship METAS class, I was able to find my different cultural identities that have shaped my leadership and peer-mentoring skills”.  

METAS Coordinator for the 2021-22 academic year Camille Rodriguez shared with us her experience that “Through METAS, I’ve seen Mentees find their sense of belonging on campus. Mentorship is an enormous aid for students to feel comfortable, find their voices and develop into the best versions of themselves”. 

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Programs such as METAS that center Latinx student retention and creating a support system for first-year and transfer Latinx students cannot be overstated as a resource for the professional development and career development of Latinx students on campus. Read more about the program here:

By Heidi Pineda
Heidi Pineda DE&I Career Ambassador Program Coordinator