THRIVE mentoring program

Ari Pence wanted to give back. So the 2012 alumna of the I-Health program and third-year medical student at the University of Illinois College of Medicine decided to launch a mentoring program that would pair first-year medical students with undergraduates who were interested in pursuing a medical degree. Because Pence was studying at the College of Medicine’s Urbana campus, she spoke with staff members from the I-Health program, who encouraged her to push forward with the project.
It didn’t take long for the mentoring program to take off.
“We have almost 80 first-year medical students matched with undergraduates in many different programs. A lot of them come from the College of Applied Health Sciences because that’s the program I graduated from so I knew a lot of people, but we also have quite a few students from the MCB (molecular and cellular biology) programs as well as the College of Engineering.”
Ami Deshpande, a junior in I-Health, received an email from Pence and liked the concept, so she signed up. She quickly made friends with her new mentor, Elizabeth Edwards, a relationship that helped guide her down an unexpected path.
“With talking to Elizabeth and talking to other faculty, and just my studies in interdisciplinary health, I'm kind of going off the path of medicine right now,” Deshpande said. “I have an interest in public health, one that I didn’t know until I was actually in sophomore year, and I’ve decided I want to pursue it more.

Ari Pence

“I think the program is something that I’m really glad I joined. In undergrad, you don’t have a lot of interactions with grad students other than your TAs (teaching assistants), so this is a really nice program to get first-hand knowledge about a career you’re potentially wanting to go into.”