A program connecting Colgate University students with alumni mentors to improve success and support for underrepresented students on campus.

Group photo of the student virtual alumni mentoring consultants
Student consultants staff the program, helping students to find and connect with alumni mentors.

Students navigating a the college experience at a highly selective university face an often stressful experience. It can be helpful for students to have a mentor helping to guide them through it, and a mentor can help students remain proactive about personal experiences and challenges on campus.

The Virtual Alumni Mentoring program facilitates the building of mentoring relationships between current Colgate students of color and alumni of color. This initiative helps connect students to alumni who have had similar experiences and can be helpful in their long-term success.

Join the Program

To get involved in the program, either as a mentee or as a mentor, call or send a message:

Make the Most of the Experience

Review some tips and best practices to ensure a positive and productive experience for both mentors and mentees.

  1. Set up the best way to communicate with your mentor.
    Remember you may use technology differently. Decide whether it is best to text, Skype, email or use phone calls to “meet.” You may decide to use more than one form of communication. If what you start with does not seem to meet your needs, offer another suggestion.
  2. Decide how often you will talk.
    While this may seem painfully obvious, you aren’t going to get much out of your mentor if you don’t get to know each other. Make sure you schedule meetings and stick to them, with a minimum of one/month. You may want to make these at the same time and day of the week so that you can both plan on them and work other things around these important meetings.
  3. Articulate your goals and objectives.
    Although your mentor wants to be helpful, it is important that you define your goals so that you can share a mission. You can consider short- and long- term goals. These can change as your life changes.
  4. Be prepared for your meetings.
    Think about your needs ahead of time and jot them down before you connect with you mentor. This will help ensure that you get what you need from your meetings and that your mentor can help guide you towards your goals
  5. Give and receive feedback.
    Ask your mentor for honest feedback. Also, give your mentor feedback about what is working and not working in your mentoring relationship. This will help you stay on the same page and feel productive.
  6. Know your on-campus resources.
    There may be some things you are facing that are outside of the scope of a mentoring relationship (e.g., a crisis situation). In these situations, please use your on-campus resources, such as the Counseling Center, your dean, or a Residential Life staff member. If you have any questions about the on-campus resources, please check out the Colgate website or ask a VAM consultant.
  7. Having a mentor is a wonderful opportunity.
    Your mentor can be an important resource. We hope that you and your mentor both find this experience tremendously rewarding!
  1. Set up the best way to communicate with your mentee.
    Remember you may use technology differently. Decide whether it is best to text, Skype, email or use phone calls to “meet.” You may decide to use more than one form of communication. If what you start with does not seem to meet your needs, offer another suggestion.
  2. Decide how often you will talk.
    While this may seem painfully obvious, you will need to get to know your mentee. Make sure you schedule meetings and stick to them, with a minimum of one/month. You may want to make these at the same time and day of the week so that you can both plan on them and work other things around these important meetings.
  3. Help mentees articulate their goals and objectives.
    Mentees may need some help figuring out what they want from the mentoring relationship. Help them consider short- and long-term goals. They may be interested in talking about personal challenges they are facing or how their lives at Colgate are going. Let them consider where they are headed and how they want to get there.
  4. Coach your mentor to be prepared for meetings.
    Ask your mentor to think about hopes for the meeting ahead of time. This will help ensure that they get what they need from your meetings and that you can be most helpful.
  5. Give and receive feedback.
    Ask your mentee how the mentoring process is going for them and be willing to make adjustments if necessary. Give your mentee honest feedback in order to help constructively guide them.
  6. Know when to refer to on-campus resources.
    Your mentee may reach out to you when they are distressed or experiencing a mental health crisis. In such cases, it is important for you to refer the student to appropriate resources, such as the Counseling Center or Campus Safety. Both of these resources can be reached by calling 315.228.7333 and either asking for a campus safety officer, a dean, or the counselor on call. If you would like to have additional information about other resources on campus, please check out the Colgate website or contact a VAM consultant.

Meet the Mentors

Alyssa Perez ’11

Alyssa Perez ’11 | she/her/hers | Philadelphia, PA

Colgate Involvement

Religion major, Political Science minor; ResLife: Residential Adviser/Community Coordinator/Apartment Manager; Delta Delta Delta; Israel Extended Study Group; India Extended Study Group

Current Interests

Travel; Hiking; Running; Being a crazy dog lady with my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Watson; University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education Alumni Board member; Colgate Alumni Admission Program member.

Professional Background

Education: M.S.Ed in Higher Education Administration, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. Professional Background: Project management in healthcare software as well as higher education executive search.

Personal Sources of Pride

Proud first generation American with Cuban heritage (although I really need more people to practice my Spanish with up here in Philly)!

Interested in VAM Because...

I'm interested in being a mentor because I wish there had been a program like this during my own time at Colgate! I definitely feel like I missed out on some great opportunities simply because I didn't know who to ask, when to ask, or that I was even qualified for some of these things.

Hopes for Mentoring Relationship

I'm hoping to find new ways to stay engaged with Colgate and the awesome students that chose to call Hamilton, NY home!  I also have a feeling that I'll learn a lot from any student I'm potentially paired with and I am so excited about that!

Hopes to Contribute to Mentoring Relationship

I'd love to be a student's sounding board for all their ideas, fears, and hopes as they explore all that Colgate has to offer.  I have a pretty good network, especially on the East Coast and I'd love to connect a student to opportunities whenever possible and help them expand their knowledge in the areas in which they are most passionate.

Darien McFadden ’88

Darien McFadden ’88 | he/him/his | Florence, MA

Colgate Involvement

Psychology and English Literature double major, Konosioni, HR (KED), RA (Read House), Salmagundi, Prism Magazine (co-founder), Phi Tau Fraternity, Psychology Club, and University Scholars Program

Current Interests

Writing and reading (fiction), weightlifting, concerts, movies.

Professional Background

Psychotherapist (Amherst College, private practice), faculty member (Cambridge College Counseling Psychology Graduate Program)

Personal Sources of Pride

Proud of my identity as a black, gay man, and representative of my communities in my profession and in the field of psychology and psychotherapy

Interested in VAM Because...

I loved my Colgate experience, and would value an opportunity to support current students.

Hopes for Mentoring Relationship

Perhaps some supportive guidance as someone who has experience (and thrived) in the challenging and rich environment that is Colgate.

Hopes to Contribute to Mentoring Relationship

A deeper understanding of the experiences of current generations of Colgate students.

Nikita Watson ’02

Nikita Watson, ’02 | she/her/hers | Brooklyn, NY

Colgate Involvement

Sociology/Anthropology and Africana Studies, Pre-Med, SORT, UT Steppers, Residential Life: RA

Current Interests

Youth Development, International Missions, Sports, Musicals, Adventures

Professional Background

Public Health

Interested in VAM Because...

Simply, I remember being a student and it was the senior students and their experience that helped me. Would love to do that for current students.

Hopes for Mentoring Relationship

New perspective, and joy from giving back.

Hopes to Contribute to Mentoring Relationship

Clarity, support, and guidance

Cordell Nwokeji ’96

Cordell Nwokeji ’96 | (he/him/his) | Houston, TX

Colgate Involvement

Track and Field, Colgate Premedical Society, leadership seminar series, 3 years of being a Link mentor

Current Interests

Track and field coach. Health community talks and presentations.

Professional Background

Urological Surgeon

Personal Sources of Pride

Love being a husband, father, and coach

Interested in VAM Because...

Opportunity to give back. Mentor a student to learn from my successes and mistakes

Hopes for Mentoring Relationship

Satisfaction of helping someone else

Hopes to Contribute to Mentoring Relationship

Growth on both our parts

Lisa Lee ’12

Lisa Lee ’12 | (she/her/hers) | Queens, NY

Colgate Involvement

Philosophy & Religion Major, Theatre Minor, Colgate Dance Team, Class Council, University Theater, Pre-Law Society, Office of Admissions, Office of Residential Life

Current Interests

Mentor for Thought into Action Entrepreneurship at Colgate, Alumni Admission Program Volunteer; avid golfer & traveler

Professional Background

Manager, Communications, Luxottica.

Personal Sources of Pride

Korean-American, born & raised New Yorker, corporate communications professional

Interested in VAM Because...

Having gone through plenty of personal challenges and experiences at Colgate myself, it is obvious to me to jump at any opportunity to serve as a mentor to someone who can empathize and benefit from the relationship.

Hopes for Mentoring Relationship

Mentorship experience & always learning from people younger than yourself, etc.

Hopes to Contribute to Mentoring Relationship

Anything to help the student succeed and choose to have the best possible experience during his/her Colgate years.

Jamil Jude ’09

Jamil Jude ’09 | (he/him/his) | Austell, GA

Colgate Involvement

Football, Black Student Union, Brothers, Urban Theatre

Current Interests

Social Justice, Theatre

Professional Background

Theatre maker

Personal Sources of Pride

Husband, dad, Blackness

Interested in VAM Because...

To help students, especially students of color, successfully navigate Colgate during their undergraduate years and set them up for success post-graduation

Hopes for Mentoring Relationship

To gain a deeper knowledge of issues on campus and information on what today's generation of students need/want from the world

Hopes to Contribute to Mentoring Relationship

My experiences as a student of color and an engaged alumni who has benefited tremendously from my time at Colgate and the connections made as an alum.

Olivia Thomas ’17

Olivia Thomas ’17 | (she/her/hers) | Washington D.C.

Colgate Involvement

Sociology major, member of the Anti-Racism Coalition, WMST events and brown-bags, Haven events, Case librarian, volunteer with the local Help Restore Hope hotline, played on the women's club rugby team for 3 semesters, studied abroad in Cape Town.

Current Interests

Social justice (particularly the ways that white supremacy/privilege work in our society), poetry reading and writing, building meaningful relationships with passionate people, volunteering with a nonprofit focused on increasing school equity and diversity in DC, always looking to find ways to learn and unlearn about my privilege and work against my role in the ongoing oppression of marginalized identities.

Professional Background

In the fall I worked as a Policy and Research Intern at the American Youth Policy Forum, and I am currently a Campaigns/Organizing Intern at the Hub Project.

Personal Sources of Pride

First-generation college student, loving daughter/sister, feminist, working woman finding my path in a new city!

Interested in VAM Because...

I struggled a lot at Colgate. The institution, the culture, the academics, the social life — it can all be really challenging at times! I think this program is a great opportunity to help students mitigate some of those challenges, or at least know that they are not alone or isolated in their feelings. I wish I could have had someone I felt I could talk to about what I was experiencing, especially during my first two years.

Hopes for Mentoring Relationship

I think that the benefits of mentoring relationships are often thought to be one-sided, in that the mentee is gaining insight/support/etc from the mentor. But I believe that all relationships, including mentorships, benefit both parties! I look forward to learning from and growing with a mentee as well as hopefully contributing something to their life.

Hopes to Contribute to Mentoring Relationship

I am hoping that a current student can learn something from the struggles I experienced at Colgate. No two people have the same situation, and I certainly am not an expert or deluded into thinking that I have the key to surviving Colgate. But I am good at listening and empathizing, and I'd really like to be able to offer support and any advice that I may have to a student attempting to navigate Colgate right now.

Greg Threatte ’69

Greg Threatte ’69 | (he/him/his) | Slingerlands, NY

Colgate Involvement

Physics Major, Association of Black Collegians, Physics Club, Freshman Football, Track

Current Interests

President of the Medical Society of the County of Albany, United Methodist District Leadership Team, Golf

Professional Background

Professor Emeritus of Pathology at SUNY, Upstate; Medical Doctor

Personal Sources of Pride

Chair of Pathology, SUNY Upstate, 2001-2012; Colgate Trustee 1992-2001

Interested in VAM Because...

I have already mentored many Colgate students as well as a generation of medical students.

Hopes for Mentoring Relationship

Just being a friend and sharing experiences.

Hopes to Contribute to Mentoring Relationship

Be a reliable friend along a lifetime pathway.

Ayanna Williams ’08

Ayanna Williams ’08 | (she/her/hers) | Bowie, MD

Colgate Involvement

University Church, Residential Life, Colgate Activities Board, Colgate Christian Fellowship, Geography, Sociology, Uganda Study abroad, Australia Study abroad, outdoors club, COVE, Upstate Institute

Current Interests

Hiking, visiting national parks, running, cooking, board games

Professional Background

Public health researcher and federal contractor with experience working with domestic and international not for profit organizations

Interested in VAM Because...

I want to support students as they prepare to transition into young professionals.

Hopes for Mentoring Relationship

Contributing to a student the same way my mentors invested in me.

Hopes to Contribute to Mentoring Relationship

Helping students cope with the pressure of graduation, attending a WPI, navigating a largely majority alumni network, etc.