UNM Physics and Astronomy Graduate Student Association ‘PUMP’ Up Undergraduate Students: UNM Newsroom

Students in the Physics, Astronomy, and Interdisciplinary Science (PAÍS) building at the University of New Mexico not only learn on their own, but help their peers grasp the concepts and get through the day as well.

The Graduate Student Association of Physics and Astronomy (P&A GSA) has launched the Undergraduate Peer Mentoring Program (PUMP).

Graduate students and upper year undergraduate students act as emotional and academic support for students pursuing a degree in physics.

Mentees are paired with a mentor for an entire semester, fostering connections with different degrees and students of all levels, while getting help learning difficult concepts.

The symbiotic relationship also gives mentors the opportunity to develop their leadership and coaching skills ahead of a potential career in academia.

P&A GSA co-chairman Ian Birdwell says he was inspired by his own experiences, or lack thereof, and saw a need at UNM.

“I went to an institution that only had an undergraduate program in physics and spent a lot of time thinking about what I would have benefited from having had a connection with a graduate student,” did he declare.

PUMP matches two to four undergraduate students with a mentor based on their interests. Each group meets every two weeks to develop common hobbies and work on things like stress management and test anxiety.

Other groups focus on next career steps and delve into academic feedback for personal statements and graduate school applications.

Organizers believe this is a huge stepping stone to improving undergraduate retention at PAÍS, as well as career development for students.

“We want to make sure that undergraduates get validation and emotional support whenever possible. Everyone benefits here, and we hope those involved in this program can become effective mentors and leaders for others,” said Birdwell.

There is still room for a few mentees this semester. Email [email protected] to register.

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