SMU’s peer-to-peer mentoring and networking programme wins international recognition

SMU’s peer-to-peer mentoring and networking programme wins international recognition

Wednesday Jul 15,2020

The Mentoring Circle (TMC), a ground-up initiative started by three soon-to-graduate SMU students in early 2017, has been awarded the Circle of Excellence Gold Award in Student Advancement by CASE, under the Student-led Engagement Initiatives category.

Founded on the principles of giving and professional excellence, TMC is a peer-to-peer mentoring and networking programme that focuses on early professional development through mentorship by senior to junior students. It seeks to elevate the mentoring experience for all participants, and envisions an SMU where future generations are better than the last through strong mentorship.

Going beyond the traditional one-on-one mentoring or group mentoring, TMC builds a strong community where the learning and sharing is not limited to the assigned mentor-mentee pair. The student club tap on the SMU networks to create many engagement events and initiatives throughout the year-long programme, so that its members may gain from the collective wisdom of senior student mentors and the alumni community. The result is a trailblazing and wholesome mentoring experience for our students, and a meaningful platform of engagement with our alumni. The club currently has 200 members and more than 300 alumni.

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) is a global non-profit membership association of educational institutions which helps develop the communities of professional practice that build institutional resilience and success. It established the Circle of Excellence Awards in 1994 to showcase the innovative and creative ideas and solutions that help CASE members better serve the educational institutions. The awards acknowledge superior accomplishments that have lasting impact, demonstrate the highest level of professionalism and deliver exceptional results.

This year, CASE received 2752 entries from 587 institutions in 28 countries, up from 20 the year before. Winners were selected based on several factors, including overall quality, innovation, use of resources, and impact. 

TMC has impressed the CASE judging panel as “an exceptional representation of a mentoring programme done well, and additional praise is due for being facilitated by students rather than staff. The unique aspect of junior/senior mentorship, in addition to alumni mentor connections, made this submission stand out.”

The panel also noted that “the organizers have a clear understanding of student needs, and found innovative ways to build touchpoints into the mentor programme through various engagement events. The impact has yielded high participation models, and serves as a model programme which could be easily adopted at other universities.”

Student mentor Pranav Sharma from the graduating Class of 2020, joined some of the TMC events in his second year of study, and saw the value of mentorship, community and guidance which TMC engenders. When he entered Year 3, he decided to become more involved with TMC to meet like-minded peers and learn together as a community. Having mentored about 10 students so far, Pranav shared that “besides probably learning as much or even more from my mentees than they do from me, being a mentor has helped me hone my ability to have conversations, network better and also understand how you can add value to someone's journey in your own little way. A big part of where I am in my professional and personal life can be attributed to certain mentors who had played a huge role.”

Year-1 student Loh Jie Yao learned about TMC during the freshman camps, and was impressed with how a group of senior students had willingly given back to juniors by offering insights and perspectives on the path they had undertaken. “Having had experience with mentors outside of school, this fresh take was very unique and interesting and I really wanted to experience it for myself,” said Jie Yao.

One of the things that he has learned from Pranav and other mentors is that a mentee should not try to emulate his mentors completely. “The experiences and sharing by our mentors should only serve as advice and guidance for me to consider. Ultimately, I should be the one deciding the path I want to take. This was something I really appreciated as Pranav has always shared with me the possibilities, and not prescribed answers to my questions.” Going forward, Jie Yao intends to pay it forward by becoming a mentor to his juniors. “Hopefully, just like what Pranav has done, I would also be able to inspire those I encounter by sharing my experiences and knowledge, and help foster a stronger mentoring culture in SMU,” he added.


For more information about The Mentoring Circle, please visit:


Caption: Student mentor Pranav Sharma and his mentee Loh Jie Yao have both benefitted from the many activities organized by The Mentoring Circle, and gained from the mutual learning and sharing during the mentoring process over the course of 2019.