Dorri McWhorter YWCA Chicago
Dorri McWhorter, CEO of YWCA Chicago, speaking to attendees of the program launch luncheon.

The hardest test of freshman year — surviving — is often insurmountable for first-time college students.

Federal data shows one in three freshmen drops out before the end of the first semester. For Dr. Asghar Sabbaghi, dean of Roosevelt’s Heller College of Business, this statistic is unacceptable and avoidable.

“Freshman year is the most difficult time for students. If they succeed this year, they are on the way to success,” Sabbaghi said. “We decided to initiate the Heller College of Business Freshman Mentorship Program to help them overcome any challenges they may face.”

At a luncheon event on Sept. 27 to kick off the new program, Sabbaghi invited guest speaker Dorri McWhorter, CEO of YWCA, to share her experience and inspiration with the students. Along with McWhorter, College of Business faculty who signed up to mentor also sat with the students.

“Your being here today tells me you are working toward developing yourself as a stronger person and a stronger leader,” McWhorter said. “Recognize your passions and plan how you can apply them to the world.”

After McWhorter, Sabbaghi addressed why the college created this program. “We are here for you, students, we care about your success,” he said. “This is a partnership and a commitment on both sides, so we are counting on you to show up, communicate and make a success out of your lives.”

Mentorship programs are often the key for people to build confidence, improve communication skills, and increase their understanding of their chosen professions. Most mentorship programs either begin in the workplace or in junior and senior years of college. Sabbaghi and the College of Business faculty wanted to introduce this experience earlier, so Roosevelt freshmen could establish a stable platform to launch successful academic and professional careers.

“A lot of freshmen, especially at Roosevelt, are first-generation college students,” said Rifat Gorener, professor of finance and accounting at Roosevelt. “They may not have people in their lives with advanced degrees to ask questions. I hope we can be there for them to help fill that role.”

The mentorship program is two years for freshmen, and one year for qualifying sophomores. Full-time College of Business faculty members will work with their mentees every month, providing various activities and discussions in areas of career planning and exploration, academic success and resources, internship opportunities, and graduate programs.

“It isn’t just about academic achievement, it is about the whole student,” Gorener said. “We are here today to start building a personal relationship [with our students] to make an impact on them for the better.”

The Heller College of Business Freshman Mentorship Program is open to all freshmen and sophomores who are registered in select business classes. To learn more about the program, call (312) 281-3293 or visit roosevelt.edu/business.


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