WGU Indiana prides itself on its excellent mentor program. It’s the key to several WGU student and alumni success stories you hear about — and Christine Hanni is one of them!
Christine obtained a dual teaching license (Elementary & Special Education K-12) along with her Masters in Special Education at IUPUI. She began her teaching career in Warren Township (grades K-1) followed by a handful of years at Mooresville Consolidated School Corp. (grades K-6). About six years ago, however, she took a leap to WGU Indiana as a Program Mentor while staying connected to her teaching roots by tutoring kids in her local community.
Her passion for education shines in her role as a Program Mentor for the WGU Indiana Teacher’s College, where students come to WGU Indiana to upskill or retool their careers in education. She first focused on undergrad Elementary and Special Education students working to obtain their teaching license. Today, she works in Advanced Programs with licensed teachers working to obtain their Masters in Curriculum & Instruction, Learning & Technology, and Instructional Design.
WGU's mission and flexibility are a few of the many reasons Christine loves the work she does at WGU Indiana. We caught up with her to learn more about her role, how she supports her students and more.
As a mentor, I think it is important to build relationships and build trust from the start. Connecting students to the resources they need to succeed and to overcome any challenges presented to them. I like to also remind students of their “why” and how completing their degree will positively impact their families and future. Similar to when I was teaching in the classroom, my mottos were and still are: “Be firm, but kind,” and “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
In addition to reminding them of their “why” and the reason they started their degree in the first place, I like to also remind students of the positive example they are setting for their families, kids, students, community, and more.
Program Mentors are a “guide on the side” supporting students in every aspect as they obtain their degree. We are their first point of contact with questions or concerns and provide encouragement and support on an individualized basis. We have amazing resources we can connect students to, such as WellConnect, the Student Success Center and the Writing Center. We support students in setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, following up to ensure they achieve them, and keep them on pace to meet their graduation goals.
Online college can be very difficult. I have many students who have tried other online institutions, but the lack of accountability was challenging. Program Mentors are unique because we help students feel supported, heard, and know they have someone cheering them on every step of the way. People need connection, and a Program Mentor is one of the ways we can ensure our students feel connected.
There are so many. One recent one was a graduate student who had tears in his eyes during our graduation call. He is an immigrant from Cambodia and never believed he could obtain this level of education. He is changing the future for his family and being an amazing role model to friends and family back in his home country.
It is never too late. I’ve had students that range from 18 years old to 80 years old. We are able to identify the needs of each student and ensure they have an individualized plan for success.