Kathryn Chamberlin, a 2015 Arcadia High School graduate, has created a program that provides guidance and support to students who plan to attend college. The Arcadia High Alumni Mentorship Program was established with the help of Chamberlin’s friends Emma Schlenker, Rae Aaron and Nicole Mitchell.

When COVID-19 closed colleges and universities and students returned home, Chamberlin realized that she and her friends were all in the same place and sharing similar experiences.

“My friend’s sister is a senior at Arcadia,” Chamberlin said, “and she’s going through the whole turmoil of what COVID-19 has done to her final year of high school. If I were a senior, I’d be devastated and frightened for the future. You’ve already had your senior year taken away, and you worry that your freshman year of college won’t be what you’ve anticipated. So I started a program to help them to get excited about their futures.”

Chamberlin also wants students to understand that what comes after high school is so much more exciting and valuable in the grand scheme of their lives. A senior at ASU, she is studying electrical engineering and will earn her master’s in 2021. 

“While at ASU,” Chamberlin said, “I have noticed a lot of freshman coming to college with unrealistic expectations about what college and college life is all about and what their specific degree entails.”

In March, she began talking with Arcadia High administration about implementing her ideas for the mentorship program. The objective is to connect current students with Arcadia graduates to talk about what it is like to be a college student and earn a particular degree.

“Alumni and current students are paired up based on similar interests, extracurricular activities, colleges or careers,” Chamberlin said. The alumni can then give advice and offer real-world examples of what it is like to attend a particular college or work in a given field. “These alumni provide mentorship and inspiration for students to move forward,” Chamberlin said.

From business to the arts to STEM, alumni hail from careers across the professional spectrum, and they can be college students, recent grads working in their field, or they may still be pursuing their education at the graduate level. Right now, the program has over 75 participants.

Chamberlin said the program works and has a sustainable future because it is entirely virtual. Students and their mentors connect whenever they want and for as long as they wish using communication tools such as text, email, Zoom and Instagram.

“The Mentorship Program is open to all age groups at Arcadia,” Chamberlin said. “We plan to target younger students to help them start thinking about their future, so they aren’t frantically trying to make decisions their senior year.” 

Currently, Chamberlin is working with one of the assistant principals to see how the program can become a long-term stable resource at Arcadia.