Believe UA is a mentoring program designed to help boost confidence and self-efficacy among undergraduates in need of guidance. The program was established in 2010 by Dr. Tim Hebson, then The University of Alabama’s Dean of Students, who currently serves as associate vice president for Student Life, and four students: James Gannon, Will Harvey, Allen King, and Brandon Pilot.
The University has seen unparalleled growth in enrollment over the past decade. This growth has presented many exciting opportunities, as well as some challenges. With the size of the staff not increasing in correlation to the expansion of our student body, the outcomes for all students have not been equally enhanced. The Believe UA program helps bridge the gap by providing an essential connection point for students who need guidance, developmental support, and conscious care during their early years at the University.
Students participating in the program enroll in HES 225: Academic Mentoring and have the opportunity to meet with Dr. Hebson throughout the semester. The Believe UA course focuses on academics, social life, and financial management, in addition to physical and spiritual well-being. Outside of the classroom, students meet with a peer mentor weekly to foster their connection.
The premise of Believe UA is simple, and the outcomes have been highly successful. Believe UA targets two specific groups of students: student mentors and student mentees.
Student mentors come from diverse backgrounds and uphold ethical leadership behavior in their roles, where they are trained in accountability, conflict resolution, effective communication, and leadership.
Believe UA also matches student mentors who have learned the keys to success with those who may be having difficulty adjusting to life at the Capstone. Students are referred to the associate vice president for Student Life by faculty and staff, meet with Dr. Hebson and program director Dr. Mary Lee Caldwell, and are then intentionally matched with a peer mentor with whom the student shares some commonality.