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Dr. Purba Das
July 13, 2018 : Grant Awarded for Peer Mentors at Ohio University Southern
A $20,000 grant from the Ohio University Foundation will establish a peer mentor program for targeted freshmen at the Southern Campus. The grant, from the 1804 Fund, was awarded for the Office for Multicultural Student Access and Retention Peer Mentorship program proposed by Purba Das, Ph.D. 
            The new program seeks to create a pilot project that will provide peer mentors, enrichment training and special activities to recipients of Bobcat PAWS scholarships (Pursuing Achievement With Southern). “PAWS recognizes hard working students, many of whom are disadvantaged, who would not normally qualify for scholarship awards,” Das said. “This project will collaborate with the Career and Leadership Development Center (CDLC) and with Campus Involvement Center (CIC) on the main campus in Athens to provide a seamless experience for participants who are first generation, women, underrepresented minorities, and Appalachian students,” she said.
            Nicole Pennington, Dean of the Southern Campus, said the project is hoped to be a helpful resource to first-year students who often find the freshman year very exciting, but it “can also be an overwhelming and intimidating adjustment.” Pennington said new students are confronted with finding a balance between academics, jobs, families, and social lives. “Many times they are not aware of the resources available to them that will help them with this transition (as) the PAWS program provides ongoing support for new students with the goal of helping them earn their college degree,” said Pennington.
            Dr. Das, an associate professor of Communication Studies for the Southern Campus, will lead the project for students enrolled at Ironton and Proctorville. She will coordinate the selection of mentors and mentees who will pilot the project, which is funded for two years.
            Dr. Das was joined in the project application by Marlene G. De La Cruz-Guzman, Ph.D., Office for Multicultural Student Access and Retention and Imants Jaunarajs, Ph.D., Career and Leadership Development Center. For more information about supportive services available for students at Ohio University Southern, please call 740-533-4600 or visit online at