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Online Degrees

Part of Western Governors University

September 15, 2020

Student Success

WGU program mentors: the secret to student success.

A young man with a headset speaks to his students.

For years, Rayna Moore resisted following her mother into teaching. She majored in theater and interdepartmental studies as an undergraduate, then worked in the banking industry. Eventually, though, the pull of teaching proved too strong, and she ended up pursuing teaching after all.

But when Rayna decided to enroll in the teaching master’s program at Western Governors University, the school was revising its testing requirements for obtaining a teaching license. She needed help navigating the process.

Her WGU Program Mentor, Leone Biesinger, was there to walk her through each step.

“She’s the one I’d go to whenever I had a question,” Rayna says. “She was really good about getting those answers for me that I needed.”

At WGU, every incoming student is assigned a Program Mentor, a faculty member who provides one-on-one guidance throughout their studies. Program Mentors help students create a course plan for each term, understand the university’s policies and procedures, and stay motivated and on track to complete their degrees. Students are paired with mentors who have experience in the fields they’re studying. Some mentors, like Leone, are WGU graduates.

Mentors usually make weekly check-in calls with their students to ensure that things are going smoothly—and Rayna says that her weekly check-in calls with Leone often consisted of quick assurances.

“We had a really easy relationship because I’m a self-starter—I’m really self-motivated,” Rayna says.

What makes WGU’s mentoring program work so well is that it’s tailored to meet each student’s needs and schedule. When Rayna began working on her teaching degree, she spent many evenings writing papers after putting her one-year-old daughter to bed. Rayna’s husband frequently traveled for work, so her grandmother would come over to babysit so Rayna could take a test. She put her theatrical skills to good work in a part-time job as a standardized patient for training local pharmacy students.

Rayna’s hard work and schedule-juggling paid off when she received her master’s degree and science teaching certificate in 2019. She was selected to be a featured speaker at her spring commencement ceremony in Ohio—and Leone traveled from Utah to hear Rayna deliver her commencement speech.

“It was really nice that she was there because my grandfather had just gotten really sick, so none of my family could come down,” Rayna says.

Rayna and Leone’s relationship didn’t end after graduation. They continue to trade emails. When Rayna was thinking about expanding her certification to cover all science subjects and more grade levels, she consulted her mentor. 

Whichever degree program you choose and whatever career goal you set when you enroll at WGU, your Program Mentor will be there to help you succeed. WGU alumni have shared how their mentors helped them identify their goals, encouraged them to persevere through personal challenges, and served as on-call cheerleaders whenever they needed motivation. Learn more about how you can earn an online degree with the ongoing, nurturing support of a WGU program mentor.

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Our focus on your success starts with our focus on four high-demand fields: K–12 teaching and education, nursing and healthcare, information technology, and business. Every degree program at WGU is tied to a high-growth, highly rewarding career path. Which college fits you?

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