Mendoza School of Business

Building Bridges helps First-Generation Student Find his Career

Building Bridges Mentorship

Author: Bryan Fields

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Mark Metryoos-Current Student and Building Bridges mentor

Building Bridges: Empowering First-Generation Students to Navigate the Possibilities

As a first-generation American and first-generation college student, Mendoza junior Mark Metryoos didn’t know the wide range of possibilities a business degree opened for him. Thanks
to a mentor in the Building Bridges program, he discovered one option engaging enough to change his major and pursue as a career.

Metryoos originally wanted to study medicine but also had an interest in business, so he looked for a university where he could explore both. He thought he could find needed funding to attend school near his home in Florida when a fellow student told him about QuestBridge. The program helps talented low-income, first-generation college students connect with high-ranking universities and secure funding. During a QuestBridge-hosted video conference to meet college advisors, he discovered Notre Dame fit exactly what he was looking for.

“The advisors at Notre Dame were friendlier, kinder and more interactive,” he said. “They were just great people. Because I had such a positive experience with them, I figured that was an indication of what Notre Dame was like.”

Mentorship and Guidance for Exploring Possible Majors

He learned about Notre Dame’s Building Bridges program that summer from a fellow Balfour-Hesburgh scholar. Part of Multicultural Student Programs and Services (MSPS), Building Bridges pairs historically underrepresented first-year students with faculty or junior and senior students from the departments that the students wish to explore as possible majors. Students ask questions or get advice from their mentors regularly or on an as-needed basis. Both work in tandem to explore opportunities designed to give students experiences that help them make informed decisions.

Allan Njomo-ND 2022 Graduate; Building Bridges mentor to Mark Metryoos

“It’s great because having someone assigned to you is an accessible resource for everything relating to your major and your career,” he said.

Before Metryoos set foot on campus, he had already lined up his first mentor, business analytics major Allan Njomo (ND ’22). Metryoos thought it would help to have a mentor with business knowledge because he already knew about medicine.

“He gave me insights into business and into Mendoza,” he said. “I learned a lot from him and other mentors. I also thought it was really cool that he was student body president.” Because of these insights from his mentor, Metryoos decided to focus exclusively on a business degree. He said he had always thought of business as just entrepreneurship but switched his majors to finance and economics after learning that business involved many more roles. In addition, he said he liked that ND focuses so much on ethics, unlike many other business schools. “Because I’m a first-generation student, Notre Dame showed me that business was all these other things I wasn’t aware of,” he said. “Also, they showed the good that can be done in business.” Now Metryoos is returning the favor by serving as a mentor.

The Importance of Mentorship and Support

He said he does everything he can as a direct resource to help them with anything they need. “My mentors gave so much to me, I want to give back,” he said. “My goal is to make sure my mentees are as informed as possible and have the support they need. I’m in their corner at all times. I also want to support the program’s leadership because they do so much.” Metryoos feels Building Bridges is vital for first-generation college students or those from underrepresented backgrounds because they often have a knowledge gap when it comes to the university experience, whether it’s academic or social. “They may not know what a rector does or that the career center exists or even what a dorm is,” he said. “So it’s important to have a mentor who was in their shoes and wants to help them. I know what questions they may have and the info they need to know. Someone who will answer immediately. MSPS at Notre Dame has so many resources for these students so they feel welcome and prepared.”

For more information about Building Bridges and the ways ND supports first-generation and underrepresented students, contact Trevon Jones-Dear, student success program coordinator, or Denise Brenes, student success assistant director.





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