In order to help students better navigate their way through the complex maze of higher education, National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) in Taiwan has recently instituted the Bright Light mentorship program, which will supplement the existing guidance provided by dual-track and outside mentors. Students facing challenges in career development, interpersonal relationships and self-growth will now find it easier than ever to arrange for expert guidance from alumni, retired faculty, etc.
A test version of the new platform has already been launched by the Office of Student Affairs, the Alumni Center, and the Computer and Communication Center. Students signing up for the service find a suitable guide by indicating the areas in which they are seeking guidance, which include course selection, changing majors, cross-disciplinary expertise, applying to graduate school, exchange programs, internships, overseas study, licensing exams, applying for employment, starting a business, interpersonal relationships, dating, family issues, and self-growth.
Dean of student affairs Chan Hong-lin (詹鴻霖) said that the Bright Light program has already lined up a wide array of alumni, both locally and overseas, and that the platform is expected to be officially launched in the second half of this year.
Peer mentoring on the horizon
NTHU president W. John Kao (高為元) said that he is aware that it’s not uncommon for students to be perplexed about their studies and about life in general, and the Bright Light program is part of the five-fold development strategy he initiated soon after becoming president.
Kao explained that we tend to think of a mentor as a boss-like figure, who tells somebody else what they should do, but it would be better to see a mentor as a person who has a lot of experience in a particular area such as work, study and life in general. Thus, for example, somebody who has raised a child is naturally able to offer helpful ideas to a new parent---the kind of ideas that you can’t easily find in books or on the internet.
Kao added that the Bright Light program is planning to add peer guidance in the future, so that students with experience in a particular area, such as studying overseas, can share their knowledge with other students.
Kao has talked to many alumni about the Bright Light program, and they are all optimistic about its success. Indeed, some alumni now living overseas are planning to use internet technology to participate in the program.
Mentors from near and far
The NTHU Committee of 100 is composed of alumni who are enthusiastic about giving back to their alma mater. The current president is Andy Tuan (段定夫) , who in addition to signing up as a mentor for the Bright Light program, is also encouraging other alumni to join. After graduating from the Department of Chemical Engineering, Tuan completed an MBA program abroad, and has many years of experience studying, working, and living in the United States, Japan, Germany and China. Eight years ago, he started an international management consulting company, and he is currently a mentor for the College of Technology Management’s Entrepreneurial Guidance Program.
According to Tuan, the Bright Light program is more comprehensive, and less structured, so as to encourage students to share their views and interests. Also, since NTHU alumni work in a wide range of fields, students using the platform are sure to find the help they need. For example, a student interested in participating in an overseas exchange program will be able to meet with a mentor with related experience and discuss issues such as culture shock and how to adapt.
Amongst the program’s mentors is Tsai Yu-en (蔡於恩) , an alumnus currently working in the United States. After graduating from the Department of Computer Science, he worked as a software engineer for eight years, helping two start-ups go public before entering the real estate industry. “There’s no shortage of outstanding NTHU alumni, and though I may not be amongst the most outstanding or successful, I do have tons of enthusiasm for guiding students in whatever way I can,” said a beaming Tsai.
Guidance at school and in life
Chao Chiao-hsuan (趙喬萱) , a junior in the College of Technology Management, said that students in her program are required to choose a second specialization, but many students have difficulty making the choice and stepping into a new field. So, it’s great that the Bright Light program will soon begin providing such students with expert guidance.
Another student looking forward to the launch of the new program matriculated six years ago, changed majors in his sophomore year, and took a leave of absence in his senior year. He commented, “Even though I’ve resumed my studies, so many things are still unclear, and it would be really helpful to discuss them with someone who has experience in these areas.”
New students at NTHU are assigned an advisor from their respective departments, and each advisor is assigned between 10 and 20 students. In addition, students in the Rising Sun and Special Admissions programs have a second advisor. Moreover, the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, the Department of Chemical Engineering, and the College of Technology Management all appoint industry mentors who advise between three and five students each, arrange visits to businesses and provide career consultations. Soon this type of comprehensive guidance will be made available to the entire student body.
NTHU has recently instituted the Bright Light mentorship program.
NTHU Committee of 100 president Andy Tuan (段定夫) enjoys mentoring students.
NTHU Committee of 100 president Andy Tuan enjoys mentoring students.
Tsai Yu-en (蔡於恩) , an alumnus currently working in the United States, mentoring a student online.
Chao Chiao-hsuan (趙喬萱) (left), a junior in the College of Technology Management, discussing career issues with NTHU president Kao (center) and alumnus Wang Chun-lung (王軍龍).
The Bright Light program is part of the five-fold development strategy initiated by Kao soon after becoming president of NTHU.
Dean of student affairs Chan Honglin (詹鴻霖) said that the NTHU Bright Light program is expected to be officially launched in the second half of this year.
Zhao said that she is planning to sign up for the NTHU Bright Light program to receive career guidance.
NTHU alumnus Wang Chun-lung is honored to serve as a mentor for the current generation of NTHU students.
From left to right: NTHU's Dean of student affairs Chan Honglin, Zhao, Kao, and Wang.