Gaucho Undergraduate Residents Unite, or GURU, is a recently-formed mentorship program featuring “Bigs” and “Littles” who provide social and academic support for freshmen living in the Santa Rosa Residence Hall.

The program, which held its first mixer during Week of Welcome in September, consists of direct, one-on-one connection between first-year and second-year students. The mentors, or “Big Gs,” are last year’s Santa Rosa residents and are paired with “Little Gs,” who are this year’s Santa Rosa residents. “Big Gs” leave the program after one year, but “Little Gs” can choose to become “Big Gs” their sophomore year, with a system that is similar to that of Greek life.

According to GURU co-founder and second-year student Dana Patterson, her past experiences with mediocre mentorship programs inspired her to create a system that worked well and held long-lasting value.

“My senior year of high school, we had a mentorship program that was a failure,” Patterson said, “But the concept stuck with me, and we thought we could make it successful, especially because the transition to college is such a difference from high school.”

Some GURU “Little Gs,” like first-year anthropology major Katie Walker, said the program has lent a hand in helping her start college off on the right foot.

“I came in, knowing that there was going to be quite a learning curve just being in college and living on campus,” Walker said. “I figured it just came with the territory. Now, I’m starting to understand what a difference it makes just learning the simplest of things.”

While GURU is focusing its efforts on helping freshmen in Santa Rosa this year, it also plans to expand the program to other residence halls in future years. As it expands, mentors like second-year student Pouya Ansari hope the bonds crafted during the first rounds of GURU maintain their relational depth.

“As we become a major organization on campus in the future, we never want to lose sight of the one-on-one connection with the ‘Little Gs,’” Ansari said, “It will get harder and harder the more we spread.”

According to Patterson, current GURU “Bigs” hope to see the organization increase in enrollment and staff strength, as alumni come back to assist the program’s development later.

“The amount of people involved and still wanting to be part of GURU has exceeded our expectations, which is a great indicator that the future of GURU is bright,” Patterson said.



A version of this article appeared on page 5 of Thursday October 10, 2013′s print edition of The Daily Nexus.