Marlin-to-Marlin program makes debut

The Marlin-to-Marlin Mentoring Program is a multi-faceted experience that allows for current students to connect with alumni. Any current undergraduate student here at Virginia Wesleyan University has the opportunity to be a part of it. 


It has made its debut appearance on campus this November. Amy Rush, the Executive Director of the Lighthouse, created the program at the beginning of fall semester and had it approved by Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Maynard Schaus. 


In order to be a part of this program, one simply has to contact any member of the Lighthouse staff. This staff member will then put the student in touch with Rush, the aforementioned creator and current leader of the program. 


In order to become a mentor, alumni have to fill out a volunteer form and select the Marlin-to-Marlin Mentoring Program option on the application. The form consists of basic personal information questions.


Once the application is filled out, the alumni will be put in contact with someone from the Office of Alumni Relations who will work in conjunction with Rush to determine the best student fit for said alumni. It is a process which much thought is put into; these pairing decisions are not made carelessly. 


The whole point of the program is to pair up alumni who completed immersive experiences at some point throughout their collegiate lives with students who are interested in pursuing such a route. The alumni chosen are those who had the opportunity to study away on either a faculty-led course or who studied abroad for a whole semester. They also consist of people who completed an immersive internship or an undergraduate research project. 


As a result of their experiences, these chosen alumni will be able to mentor, support and guide the current students in the planning and preparation phases of their own immersive experiences. The whole point and goal of the program is for these alumni to use their mistakes and successes to direct the future generation on a better and more productive path. 


The whole inspiration for the program came from the work that the entire team of the Lighthouse does. Rush talked about how “we [the Lighthouse staff] talk to students about developing pathways to experiential learning experiences. We want students to explore and investigate options in the academic program and use research as preparation to complete an internship, study away program and/or an undergraduate research project.” 


By providing a program that allows for and encourages students to take these experiential learning opportunities, many personal and professional transformations can occur that “help define career goals, generate new interests and modify how a student reacts with others in the world.”


This program has many benefits both for the current students and for the alumni. In regards to the students, they are provided with helpful information that will aid in their journey and process of completing an immersive experience. Their confidence is built as they open communication with their designated alumni allows them to express their passions and goals for the future. Additionally, they are taught more about what a professional relationship is like and how things like networking are established. 


The benefits of being a part of this program as an alumni are just as bountiful. Alumni are able to reflect on their experiences and realize the impact that they truly had on their lives. Furthermore, the donation of their time and service to the school further establishes their connection to the school and gives it a more personal meaning. They can also be content in the knowledge that they have made a positive investment in the academic and personal development of another human being. 


In the first week of notifying alumni, nine have already volunteered and agreed to become mentors. Rush mentioned how they are excited to work with the current students and how they completely agree that experiential learning is an important aspect of both personal and career development. 


Rush plans to continue marketing the program throughout campus, and her hope is that it will result in “a robust program with meaningful connections and active conversations about internships, study away programs and undergraduate research.” She wants students to be empowered by this opportunity and to maybe even consider being a mentor themselves in the future. 


All in all, the Marlin-To-Marlin program is a unique experience through which meaningful relationships can be cultivated and academic opportunities can expand. In order to learn more information about this program, feel free to contact Amy Rush at

By Phoebe Cox