Peer Mentors

Training and advising committee

Andreas Quainoo

Andreas Quainoo

Training and advising committee co-chair

Subjects: chemistry, mathematics, physics, engineering
Hometown: Accra, Ghana
Major: aeronautical engineering
Year in school: junior
Interests: flight, programming, reading, running
Why I want to be a peer mentor: While many people may not know it, there is not one single technique to learn or study. Adapting yourself to discover and learn the best way to study is vital to college success. I would like to help others find their own unique way to study which they will be comfortable with. I also want to be a peer mentor because I can never really know whether I understand a topic or subject unless I teach it to others. “Teaching is the highest form of understanding.” – attributed to Aristotle.
Career goals: It is my desire to see the development and availability of personal aircraft to many. I therefore intend to work in the aircraft industry to design and build the next generation of personal transports.
Advice: Success in college is not for a select few. Ambition is next to nothing without determination and hard work. Don’t throw in the towel just yet!

Jin Yu Woo

Jin Yu Woo

Training and advising committee co-chair

Subjects: chemistry, mathematics
Hometown: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Major: chemical engineering
Year in school: junior
Interests: fitness, running, swimming, movies, traveling
Why I want to be a peer mentor: To apply what I know and learn more via teaching. As I believe, you teach best what you most need to learn.
Advice: We govern and traverse our own paths while teachers merely show the way along.
Quote: “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford

Maria Kelley

Maria Kelley

Training and advising committee member

Subjects: Spanish, biology, chemistry
Hometown: Okemos, Mich.
Major: Spanish and biomedical science
Year in school: senior 
Interests: running, traveling, relaxing, and trying new foods
Why I want to be a peer mentor: I believe that learning a subject is a positive experience that can truly enrich one's career. Therefore, as a peer mentor, I aim to help students in mastering a subject so that they can continue on to accomplish their goals for the future. It brings me joy to have fellow students do well in their academics, and if I can help with any obstacles that come their way then it will be easier for not only them to succeed in class and in their goals but for me to do so as well. Teaching is learning.
Career goals: I plan to graduate from WMU and then enroll in a medical school so that I can fulfill my dream of becoming a doctor. Hopefully I will specialize in dermatology.
Advice: Write lists of what needs to be done for the day so that you can focus on one task at a time. 
Quote: "When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don't adjust the goals, adjust the action steps." — Confucius

Silmang Sene

Silmang Sene

Training and advising committee member

Subjects: mathematics, physics, chemistry, engineering, French
Hometown: Dakar, Senegal
Major: aerospace engineering
Year in school: junior
Interests: movies, flight simulators, soccer, video games, hanging out with friends, and swimming
Why I want to be a peer mentor: Most of the time, students have problems finding a particular method of studying that suits them for a particular subject. First of all, being a peer mentor will give me a chance to help others, to share my knowledge about a particular subject, and to share my experience about college. In addition, mentoring gives me the opportunity to enhance my leadership skills by mentoring different students from different cultural backgrounds and improve my organizational skills. It will allow me to meet new people with whom I can share ideas and learn from. Also, as a peer mentor, I would like to help students find their own ways to study and to be successful in college. Finally, this program will give me the chance to have a positive impact on other people's life. 
Career goals: I am planning on working in a lot of areas in my field but I would love to do more research and find new says to improve aircraft safety. I would like to participate in projects that focus on the development of aeronautics in my country. Also, I want to get a degree in management.
Advice: College can be a lot of fun but one has to find the right balance in order to achieve his or her goal. Also, when you feel overwhelmed by school, you need to prioritize instead of trying to get everything done at the same time. 
Quote: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela

Other peer mentors

David Ajoku

David Ajoku

Subjects: mathematics, physics, engineering
Hometown: Imo, Nigeria
Major: aerospace engineering
Year in school: sophomore
Interests: fitness, cooking—I'm a really good cook, dance, soccer, and drawing
Involvement: WMU Lee Honors College, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society
Why I want to be a peer mentor: People say goals are dreams with deadlines, but more intriguingly they are ambitions revolving around a burning passion. My dreams and goals in life have made me realize that I am a proponent of change who wishes to transform the lives of others in all the possible ways I can. Peer mentoring will give me the opportunity to live this humanitarian dream of mine of helping others discover themselves and other areas of their cognitive potentials, through idea transfer and knowledge sharing. More so, for me it’s not just about teaching but it’s also about learning from others, which I believe will help me grow holistically.
Career goals: I take genuine interest in technological innovation and so I hope to someday develop ideas and initiatives for futuristic air transport systems. Above all, my wish is to positively impact the lives of others with my career in the best way I can.
Advice: Excellence is not by accident and is never an incidence of coincidence. Don’t confuse it; if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. But even when you fail, still remember that you only really fail when you quit trying. Pick yourself up and don’t let the mistakes of yesterday destroy your wonderful today and ruin your great tomorrow. Remember, success has always been easy to measure; it is the distance between one's origin and one's final achievement. Aim to be excellent so that your success will be immeasurable. 
Quote: “Worry is like a rocking chair, it will give you something to do but it won’t get you anywhere, it is simply the misuse of imagination. It’s like having sight but lacking vision. Quit worrying and begin to dream because dreams do come true only if you dare to dream. ” – Bill Newman

Lucia Álvarez Soto

Lucia Alvarez Soto

Subjects: mathematics, physics, engineering, Spanish
Hometown: San Cristobal, Dominican Republic
Year in school: graduate
Major: civil engineering
Interests: Zumba classes, traveling, going to the beach, hanging out with my friends, reading, shopping, surfing the web, and listening music.
Why I want to be a peer mentor: I want to be a peer mentor because it presents to me the opportunity to help others. I enjoy spending time with my students and seeing them succeed. Moreover, I want to be a positive influence in the lives of others; and by mentoring them I can help those people to improve their college experience academically.
Career goals: My goal is to obtain a master’s degree in construction management with a minor in transportation engineering. With this degree I plan to work in the construction industry and hopefully establish myself as successful professional. I would really be interested in working in something related to the development of construction projects, urban planning, and transportation design.
Advice: My advice would be to invest your time wisely while in college. Integrate yourself into the community, make friends, and study. Lastly, one final advice: Be confident, believe in you and in what you can do.
Quotes: "I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions." – Stephen Covey

Milan Bird

Milan Bird

Subject: Spanish
Hometown: Hampton, Va.
Major: Spanish
Year in school: Graduate
Interests: exercise, spiritual growth, painting, fashion design, and cool new technology
Involvement: Sigma Lambda Beta Fraternity, Latino Student Alliance, and @DailyDrops365
Why I want to be a peer mentor: I realized years ago that my life will have an impact on everyone I come in contact with, people I know and those I don't know. In some way my life affects theirs. As a peer mentor I have the opportunity and responsibility to have that impact be the most positive and supportive it can be for my students. My personal experiences, challenges, as well as triumphs will serve well in positioning myself into the lives of my students both as an educator and friend.
Career goals: Upon receiving my master's degree, I plan to teach Spanish conversation at the college level, focusing on life and culture of Latin America. Also, I plan to become a successful public speaker on the platform of embracing challenges and hardship as opportunities for the advancement of oneself and one's community. Lastly, I will be creative director of my own lifestyle clothing brand.
Advice: When things don't happen right away, remember it takes six months to build a Rolls Royce and only 13 hours to build a Toyota. Smile more.
Quote: "Creativity can be greater than knowledge." – Albert Einstein

Lawrence Cuneaz

Lawrence Cuneaz

Subjects: mathematics, computer science, physics
Hometown: Royal Oak, Mich.
Major: applied mathematics
Minor: computer science
Year in school: junior
Interests: weight lifting, billiards, riding go-karts, and volunteering
Why I want to be a peer mentor: I enjoy seeing satisfaction in students' eyes after solving a problem. I want to help students knock down barriers so they see that with hard work anything is achievable.
Career goals: I plan to go to graduate school and become a professor of mathematics, sculpting the minds of the future.
Advice: Do not be afraid to ask for help. Successful students are not students that completely understand a concept when it is first presented; successful students build their understanding by asking questions and seeking help.
Quote: "Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school." – Albert Einstein

Tina Javeloza

Tina Javeloza

Subjects: statistics, mathematics, accounting
Hometown: Manila, Philippines
Major: statistics
Year in school: graduate
Interests: yoga, fitness and relaxation, traveling, organizing events, and volunteering
Why I want to be a peer mentor: I want to be a peer mentor because I want use my spare time to help other students with their academic needs. Being an international student, I am also excited to meet and interact with people and learn about them and their culture. Moreover, I believe that teaching is not only a learning experience for the students but for the mentors as well.
Career goals: My current career goal is to successfully finish my master’s degree in statistics. After graduation, I would like to join an organization that will give me the opportunity to apply my knowledge and develop my skills further. I am leaning toward finding work in data analytics. Alongside with this, I also want to continue learning Mandarin and be able to speak it fluently.
Advice: Maximize your stay in the university and get involved. Always have a winning attitude by doing your best in everything. You’ll never know, what you’re doing now may shape your future. Lastly, life is short, make the most out of it! Enjoy life, laugh often, make friends, share some love, and travel the world.
Quote: "Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tiptoe if you must, but take a step." — Naeem Callaway

Dale Kraai

Dale Kraai

Subjects: anthropology, sociology, psychology
Hometown: Grand Haven, Mich.
Major: anthropology
Minor: geography
Year in school: sophomore
Interests: traveling, reading, biking, and cooking
Why I want to be a peer mentor: I've been fortunate enough to have some awesome people in my life who have helped me adjust and grow through life's many challenges. I know, for me, having that extra push helped greatly. I love that this job gives me the opportunity to help those who want that same "extra push." 
Career goals: After finishing my bachelor's degree in anthropology at WMU I'd like to join the Peace Corps. After returning I'd like to start graduate school to become a bioarchaeologist. 
Advice: I know it's cliche' but honesty truly is the best policy.
Quote: "The world is a book and those that do not travel read only one page." – St. Augustine

Rachel Leblang

Rachel Leblang

Subject: Japanese
Hometown: Hartford, Mich.
Major: Japanese
Minor: race and ethnic relations
Year in school: senior
Interests: yoga, chess, dance, biking, and reading
Why I want to be a peer mentor: I have always enjoyed helping others, and with a language like Japanese, I think it's important to have access to a program like the Mentoring for Success Program. I also believe that by mentoring Japanese, I will become more knowledgable in the subject as well. 
Career goals: I plan to continue on to a graduate program in Japanese language and literature after finishing my degree here at Western. After that I hope to teach Japanese language, culture, and literature at a collegiate level.  
Advice: It's always good to set goals for yourself, but don't get so wrapped up in attaining those goals that you forget to enjoy the road along the way!
Quote: "The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet." – Aristotle

Angie Paula

Angie Paula

Subjects: mathematics, statistics, physics, computer science, engineering, Spanish
Hometown: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Major: electrical engineering
Year in school: graduate
Interests: robotics, traveling, chess, dancing, and fashion
Why I want to be a peer mentor: I have always liked to teach and be part of someone's success by passing on my knowledge and life experiences to those getting started in their careers and professional lives; it gratifies me a lot. In addition, I identify myself with this program's students, and it is a way of me paying back all the help I received when I came to this country looking for academic success. Finally, I believe that when I mentor a student I can always learn something from it.
Career goals: I have always been fascinated with the robotics field and how everything works from the control systems to the programming part. My expectations are to work in different places in order to increase my knowledge in such systems, and probably five years from now I can start developing applications myself as I teach in college. I have always wanted to do that.
Advice: There is an anonymous quote out there that says "there is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs," that I have made an emblem for my life, because it is so true. My advice is just to keep going no matter what; only we can fight for what we really want in life, and at the end of the day, all the effort will really pay off.

Hoang Thuy Vy Phan (Vy Phan)

Vy Phan

Subjects: mathematics, statistics, biology, chemistry, economics, psychology
Hometown: Saigon, Vietnam
Major: behavioral science
Minor: chemistry
Year in school: junior 
Interests: music, movies, cooking, swimming, biking, and traveling
Why I want to be a peer mentor: I want to learn more about other students who are pursuing their dreams in college and in life after college just like I am doing. I believe it is good for the students to know that there will always be someone there to look out for them and to assist them with every step on this long, interesting journey. College life can be distracting and I would love to use whatever means that I have to aid my students in the best way that I can with their academic life. I also wanted to challenge myself when I decided to apply for this position; I have never professionally mentored any fellow students before, but I know my potentials, and I want to expand my horizon, both academically and socially. 
Career goals: Being a psychiatrist is my main career goal; however, I am also up for a master's degree and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology if getting into medical school would become affordable. 
Advice: Showing up to classes is one of the best ways to nail your exams! Always keep in mind that asking academically-related questions critically is what you should do if you are determined to be a successful individual in college. Time management and prioritization are not easy but the more persistent you are, the easier they will get.  Do not ever procrastinate! Last but not least, study hard during the week but definitely play hard on the weekends!
Quote: "The only way to do great work is to love what you do." — Steve Jobs

Katie Potts

Katie Potts

Subjects: psychology, sociology, history, religion
Hometown: Bloomingdale, Mich.
Major: social work
Year in school: graduate
Interests: reading, spending time with family, watching TV, traveling, going to the beach, baking
Why I want to be a peer mentor: I love getting to know new people and learning about their lives and I also love school so this job marries those two passions well. I also love helping students, in any way, succeed in pursuing their dreams. There is great satisfaction seeing students defy the odds against them and succeed, and I love to be a part of that process. 
Career goals: I am currently in the MSW program and plan to become a school social worker.
Advice: Stay organized; it’s much easier to stay on top of tasks if you know what’s due and when. Get to know your professors; they are real people with real lives which are usually very interesting. I’ve also found that they really do love getting to know students and helping them succeed.
Quote: "Vocation is where our greatest passion meets the world's greatest need.” — Frederick Buechner

Saria Saleem

Saria Saleem

Subjects: Spanish, psychology, biology, chemistry, statistics
Hometown: Kalamazoo, Mich.
Major: biomedical sciences and Spanish
Year in school: junior
Interests: I love spending time with my friends and family, shopping, camping, and drawing.
Why I want to be a peer mentor: As I mentor I hope to teach students better and more efficient ways to learn the subject material to prepare themselves for not just their upcoming assignments but future career/life opportunities. Also, I want to help the students develop skills and become better at handling college life and future careers in a way that is personal to them. I believe as a mentor I can gain a more practical understanding of my knowledge, which will help me achieve my goal of a well-rounded and experience rich Medical Student with excellent leadership skills in the near future.
Career goals: I am currently seeking a bachelor's degree in biomedical science and Spanish as a premedical student at Western Michigan University. Later, I plan on going to medical school to complete my education and build a good career.
Advice: Life is a learning process and we are constantly learning new details about ourselves and our surroundings. Therefore, I encourage the students to seek help from their mentors in figuring out how to face the upcoming challenges in their lives and how to achieve their goals with success.
Quote: "In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.” — Phil Collins

Li Teng Voon

Li Teng Voon

Subjects: psychology, business
Hometown: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Major: psychology
Year in school: junior
Interests: drawing, reading, and watching movies
Why I want to be a peer mentor: Joining a new institution is never easy. Since I've been through the rough patch myself, I would love to use the knowledge I've gained from my experiences to help those who struggle with adjusting to university life, and hopefully aid them in sailing through their own struggles as smoothly as possible. My passion has always been to help others in any way I can, and being a peer mentor offers me that opportunity. It also brings me great satisfaction and delight to see my students achieve their goals, be it academic goals or career goals!
Career goals: After graduating, I will be working toward receiving my master's degree in psychology, and hopefully a Ph.D. I would like to engage myself in developmental and cognitive psychology, doing research and discovering new theories and findings.
Advice: Always be passionate about what you are about to engage yourself in and never back down from a challenge. 
Quote: “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Confucius