As a child, psychology professor Carrie Saetermoe watched tanks roll down the streets of Detroit. The sight of war machines in ordinary neighborhoods was shocking, but for Saetermoe, the lasting mental imprint came from the conditions that led to the spectacle.
"The street riots represented frustration with poverty," she said. "After years of reading and thinking, I concluded that the most significant conduit for social change might be college—helping young people identify and realize their dreams through education."
Northridge's Faculty Mentor Program in November acknowledged Saetermoe's dedication, naming her winner of the university's 2002–2003 Don Dorsey Excellence in Mentoring Award.
The annual award recognizes exceptional faculty mentors who take a personal as well as an academic approach to mentoring, and who support the university's commitment to the success of students who represent diverse backgrounds and communities. Established in 1998, it is named after Donald Dorsey, the professor of educational psychology and counseling who helped develop Northridge's first mentor training program.
Representative of Saetermoe's mentoring work is Life Chances for L.A. Youth, a program that targets Latino youth because, Saetermoe says, they are at greatest educational risk, and Los Angeles' many ethnically homogeneous schools offer a natural "laboratory" for her work.
In the program, more than 45 Northridge students mentor roughly 70 high schoolers, primarily from Monroe High School. Together with their families, the youngsters regularly visit the university for education and support. In turn, mentors pay weekly visits to Monroe for talks with students in detention about goals, study habits and issues that influence academic achievement. A major tutoring component is being added, Saetermoe said.
"Our awards selection committee was impressed by the breadth and depth of Professor Saetermoe's mentoring contributions to CSUN," said Glenn Omatsu, Faculty Mentor Program coordinator. "We were especially moved by the nomination letters written by her current students."
"It has always been my dream to generate social change by training scholars," Saetermoe said. "Now that some of my students are professors, I can see how mentoring can spread as they, themselves, mentor students."
The Faculty Mentor Program, whose Web site is www.csun.edu/eop/htdocs/ fmp.html, provides mentoring services, training and resources for Northridge faculty, staff and students.
@csun | December 8, 2003 issue
Public Relations | University Advancement
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