Home Education and Careers Neumann University mentorship program honors Wilmington’s Aideen Murphy who died earlier this...

Neumann University mentorship program honors Wilmington’s Aideen Murphy who died earlier this year

Aideen Murphy, Neumann University

Only weeks before Wilmington’s Dr. Aideen Murphy died in mid-April, she shared an idea with Dr. Michelle Santana, a nursing professor at Neumann University. Murphy wanted to establish a mentorship program for first-generation students at Neumann. 

As a first-generation student herself, Murphy knew the difficulties that this group of students faced in navigating the often-unfamiliar headwinds of higher education. Santana agreed, and the two professors planned to present the idea at the April meeting of the university’s Graduate Council. 

When Murphy died suddenly, Santana enlisted Bettsy McKlaine, director of adult and graduate admissions, to bring the concept to fruition. In early August, the pair announced the launch of the Aideen Murphy Mentorship Program, named in honor of the former associate professor in the School of Education and Human Services. Murphy had also been a member of the Diocese of Wilmington Board of Catholic Schools.

The program matches Neumann faculty, staff, and alumni who are willing to act as mentors with students who have requested guidance from someone with experience to help them on their collegiate journey. Santana and McKlaine have expanded the original concept beyond only first-generation undergraduates to include all undergraduate and graduate students at Neumann. 

The initiative also aligns with the mission of President Chris Domes’ University Council on DEI, which Santana chairs, and his President’s Advisory Council for Diversity and Inclusion, comprised of alumni. 

Mentors are responsible for checking in with their assigned mentee at least four times per year. The meetings can be in person or virtual. There will also be two receptions (at the beginning and end of the academic year) so that all participants can meet in person. 

Santana and McKlaine have created a list of questions for mentors to assist them in starting the conversations. The duo wants to ensure that mentors inform their students about the many resources at Neumann that support academic success and career preparation: academic counseling, tutoring, internships, and workshops in resume writing, interviewing skills, and networking. 

When possible, the program aims to match students with mentors who may have experience that mirrors a student’s career goals or interests. 

As of Aug. 17, the program had already enlisted 20 volunteer mentors.