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In 2011, Nova Southeastern University’s Oceanographic Center (OC) rolled out the Peer Mentorship Program with support from the Department of Education’s Title V PPOHA grant. The program is designed to allow current OC students at the masters and doctoral level the opportunity to mentor new students. The Peer Mentoring Program was created to assist new students in social, personal, and academic acclimation to NSU OC, while developing positive student engagement at the OC and the university. Part of the OC’s PPOHA Title V grant, the program aims to decrease attrition rates among underrepresented groups, and encourages them to progress in the STEM sciences. This e-newsletter was created to communicate with our OC Community about the exciting mentorship initiatives involving our students, staff, and faculty.

January is National Mentorship Awareness Month!

A WORD FROM DR. RICHARD SPIELER, PROFESSOR AND ASSOCIATE DEAN OF ACADEMIC PROGRAMS I’m delighted that students have the opportunity to be part of a program that encompasses academic and student development. We continue to enhance student services by collaborating with main campus, faculty, and students. The Peer Mentorship Program is an intricate part in raising student morale and it serves as an outreach tool to prospective students interested in getting a holistic education; both academically and interpersonally. Mentorship allows new and seasoned students to work together to make the OC community a welcoming environment.

Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center 8000 North Ocean Drive Dania Beach, Florida, 33004 (954) 262-3600 (800) 39-OCEAN

Richard Spieler, PhD



MESSAGE FROM M.S. STUDENT, KAYELYN SIMMONS The Oceanographic Center Graduate Peer Mentor Program has become an awesome adventure for me. As a Title V Fellow, I have the opportunity to facilitate events, interact with mentors and new students, and act as an ambassador for the Oceanographic Center. Some of the highlights of the program are the New Student Orientation and Welcome Week, Big Cypress Swamp Hike, participating in the Nova Southeastern University 5k Walk/Run, and NSU-OC Beach Olympics. It has been a joy to network with other organizations that see the importance of mentoring for graduate students. Just last year, I was a new student with a mentor. Now that I am a mentor myself, I enjoy sharing my past experiences and aiding those new to the Oceanographic Center. Overall, it is a rewarding experience. Kayelyn Simmons

Kayelyn Simmons

Title V Fellow, Fisheries Lab Graduate Research Assistant


The Oceanographic Center has been a new and fun experience for me since I began working under the Title V Fellowship and Peer Mentorship Program. I have become more involved at the school with faculty, learned many things, from event planning to environmental assessment, and developed great friendships along the way. Thinking of fresh ideas with the T5 team to help students prepare for their careers in marine sciences is the best part of the job! I look forward to this new year at the OC!

Allison Santos Allison Santos

Participating runners design their tie-dye shirts to represent the OC at NSU’s Shark Shuffle

Title V fellow, Research assistant

OC students hike with South Florida Wildlands Association at Big Cypress




Greetings and Happy New Year! I would like to take this time to thank students, faculty, and staff for their participation and support, thus far, in the Oceanographic Center’s Peer Mentorship Program. I am excited about this New Year and all the educational and developmental opportunities that will come our way. There are many different ways to enhance this program by simply engaging in the OC community and making this place a strong, cohesive Center.

Joyce Varela

Do you consider yourself an involved person or an engaged person? I would hope you are the latter and I encourage you to seek ways to engage in whatever endeavors you have or are currently participating in. Anybody can get involved, but what really makes an engaging person stand out from the rest is their ability to take an idea have it flourish into something that enhances the OC community; both inside and outside of academia. An engaging person is someone who has a desire and a passion to actively bring about support and commence new initiatives within a university organization. So, step out of your comfort zone and you will see the impact you can make in someone’s academic and/or professional career by simply being engaged. Best wishes! Joyce D. Varela Administrative Assistant-Title V

MESSAGE FROM JAZMIN LETAMENDI These are exciting times for the NSU-OC! The OC Peer Mentorship Program was founded in June 2011, with the leadership of the Title V Committee. The Oceanographic Center (OC) was charged with launching a graduate mentorship program in an effort to develop peer relationships with new incoming graduate students. According to Boyle & Boyce (1998), the importance of informal interacting with peers and faculty via mentorship programs, or other socialization activities, are in a sense, a part of the field, outside of academics. Graduate mentorship opportunities transcend the idea of graduate student leadership development. Our program contributes to the cultivation of professional leadership skills by establishing a supportive environment for new students and increases NSU OC students’ morale. NSU-OC’s Peer Mentorship Program reinforces the goals, objectives and mission of the university. Our mentors establish their own personal and academic goals throughout the program. I am delighted to work on this rewarding initiative! In my short time at the center, I have been able to see our mentoring community flourish at the OC! I was honored to present the OC at the University of New Mexico 5th Annual Mentoring Conference to share with other colleagues around the nation the excellent things our program has accomplished. Keep up the great work everyone, and I look forward to everything 2013 has in store for us! Best regards, Jazmin Letamendi, M.S. Outreach and Peer Mentorship Program Supervisor

Jazmin Letamendi, M.S.



DID YOU KNOW? January is National Mentorship Month, which was established in 2002 by the Harvard School of Public Health and the National Mentoring Partnership (MENTOR). National Mentorship Month focuses attention on the need for mentors in businesses, government agencies, schools, faith communities and nonprofits to work together within their own entities, in efforts to increase the number of mentors to assure brighter futures for our young people (National Mentoring Month Campaign, 2011). In the scientific community, specifically for graduate students, having guidance from fellow peers and faculty are significant informal and formal aspects of mentoring.


Aarin Conrad Allen Shira Jaye Anteby Crystal Bass Charlotte Berry Eric A. Burdett Amanda Costaregni Beranda Harper Sara Jarossy Shawn Martin Rebecca Mulheron Allison Santos Danielle Sattelberger Jennifer M. Savaro Kayelyn Simmons Theresa Robitaille Ian Rodericks




MentorShark Series:   

January 10, 5:30pm-6:00pm Forman 100 January 17, 5:30pm-6:00pm Forman 100 January 31, 5:30pm-6:00pm Forman 100

Mentor peer-led informal dialogues; conducted by educational, outreach, social committees.


OC Mentors assisting New Student Orientation

Come speak to us to learn more. We will be providing hand-outs, welcome students back to class   

January 14, 6:00pm-6:30pm Forman lobby January 15, 6:00pm-6:30pm Forman lobby January 16, 6:00pm-6:30pm Forman lobby

MENTOR UNDERGRADS ON GRADUATE SCHOOL LIFE Graduate Studies Panel  Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 5:30pm COE Auditorium

OC students and faculty participating in NSU’s Shark Shuffle 5k Race. Go team OC!



MESSAGE FROM BERANDA HARPER, OUTREACH LEAD MENTOR The desire to reach out comes from first reaching within. As a part of Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center’s Peer Mentorship Program, the outreach committee offers students the chance to develop peer relationships and professional networking, as well as give back to the OC and surrounding communities. A diverse lineup of events compels participants to reach out, from assisting with the Alumni panel to volunteering at local beach cleanups. In September, members of the outreach committee probed current students’ brains for post-graduation inquiries in order to facilitate the alumni panel, a two-hour question and answer session with three distinguished OC alumni. The event offered a networking opportunity while also providing a relatable perspective of one’s experience at the OC. Students will finish the school’s first annual corn hole tournament this semester. Ten teams participated in the first round of heats, and the champions have yet to be crowned! Some good oldfashioned competition encouraged camaraderie and professionalism, while in tandem, provided enjoyable release from the semester’s stressors.

OC students can anticipate volunteer and charity opportunities with the start of the New Year, including local state park cleanups and hurricane relief drives. Being able to influence and also give back to outside communities, helps cast a caring and productive peer community in return. On-campus group study/revision sessions will also be made available spring term under the organization of the outreach committee. These sessions make available the chance to develop and enhance proposal/thesis/capstone requirements, as well as build student unity and professional and intellectual enrichment for future endeavors. The NSU-OC Peer Mentorship Program will continue to broaden our horizons and improve our experiences and connections throughout our diverse and marvelous atmosphere at the Oceanographic Center. Attendance may not be required, but it is certainly beneficial to both yourself and those around you. If you have any questions or are interested in mentor program events, please feel free to contact anyone involved with the program or specifically, Beranda Harper, Outreach lead mentor,






Allison is an M.S student in the Marine Biology track. She is from Orange County, California, and has a B.S. in Biology from Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles. Her research interests include mathematical modeling, population dynamics of cetaceans and economic impacts of whale watching in developing countries. Her ambition to raise awareness about our troubled seas and encourage proactivism within local communities led her to the OC’s Title V Fellowship and Peer Mentoring Program. Allison helps develop and organize cultural/educational outreach programs, assists in the assessment of fish and invertebrates following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and provides tours of the Center of Excellence. She also assists her advisor, Dr. Bernhard Riegl, with his Population Ecology class. During her spare time, she enjoys the usual…the outdoors, family, friends, dingy books, dry/dark comedies, sleeping, dancing, and even just relaxing with her dogs.

Kayelyn is a second year student in the M.S. Marine Biology track. She is originally from Atlanta, Georgia and received her B.S. in Marine and Environmental Science from Hampton University. Kayelyn is a Title V Fellow and a research student in the Fisheries Research Lab working with Dr. David Kerstetter. Her research is on the endoparasite fauna of the invasive lionfish, Pterois Volitans, in the Western Atlantic and Caribbean. Her research allows her to get more experience in scientific diving, learn about coral reef ecosystems, and fisheries management and policy. Throughout her undergraduate and graduate tenure, she’s gained so much knowledge about professionalism and research that at every opportunity she tries to share those experiences with all of her peers. Being a part of the Graduate Peer Mentorship Program has not only helped her reach out to incoming students, but it has also inspired her to continue to gain more experiences in networking with other organizations through hard work and integrity.



MEET YOUR MENTORS (CONT.) CRYSTAL BASS, EDUCATIONAL LEAD MENTOR Crystal is an M.S. student in the Marine Biology track. Her research interests are marine mammal cognition, communication and bioacoustics. She enjoys scuba diving, kayaking, and other water-related activities. She also enjoys photography, sketching and painting. The reputation of a graduate program at any university is dependent on the quality of students that it produces. Crystal believes that mentoring new students and helping them to acclimate to the graduate college experience will help the NSU OC produce the highest quality graduates. This enhances both the university’s reputation and value of degree programs. As a Graduate Lead Mentor, she wants to make the NSU OC the best graduate experience possible for new students.

BERANDA HARPER, OUTREACH LEAD MENTOR Beranda is a M.S. student in the Marine Biology track. Her thesis, under the advisement of Dr. Riegl, focuses on building statistical models using socioeconomic and field data to motivate and guide management amongst coastal regions in the developed and developing worlds. She sees the mentoring program as an opportunity to develop, network, and to grow on a personal level. In addition, she sees the benefits of helping students transition and the benefits of succeeding in scientific endeavors.

THERESA ROBITAILLE, SOCIAL LEAD MENTOR Theresa is a M.S. student in the Marine Biology track. She enjoys scuba diving and country line dancing. She sees the Peer Mentorship Program as a critical component that will give quality students the opportunity to display their leadership skills and make a difference in the marine science world. By being able to learn, help and collaborate with others, mentors can not only create a quality experience for new students, but can make a difference in their own lives and in the marine sciences.

New Student Orientation




IAN RODERICKS, PEER MENTOR Ian is an M.S. student in the Marine Biology track. He enjoys scuba diving, fishing, music, and the outdoors. He grew up in southwest Louisiana and enjoys cooking Cajun food. Ian also enjoys meeting new people and helping them adjust to the south Florida life, as he received much help when he first came to Florida.

AARIN-CONRAD ALLEN, DISTANCE PEER MENTOR Aarin is currently a distance student pursuing his M.S. degree in Marine Biology, with a focus on the behavior and ecology of the Florida manatee. He has worked for the South Florida Museum taking care of the world’s oldest manatee (Snooty, who is 64-years old). Aarin’s hobbies include ice hockey, scuba diving, and big-game fishing. He chose to participate in the Peer Mentoring Program because mentoring has been a big part of his career success, both academically and professionally.

AMANDA COSTAREGNI, PEER MENTOR Amanda is a joint M.S. student in the Marine Biology/Coastal Management track. She enjoys scuba diving, surfing, volleyball, running, gym, and traveling. She wanted to be part of the NSU OC Peer Mentoring Program because she feels that is important to have some peer guidance when arriving in an unfamiliar place and makes transition much easier and fun. Amanda wants the incoming students to feel welcome and become a part of the OC family. A cohesive student body is really important to her and having Friday happy hours, seminars or beach volleyball activities can be enjoyed together.

CHARLOTTE BERRY, PEER MENTOR Charlotte is a M.S. student in the Marine Biology track. Her thesis focus is on the conch population aggregations and habitat association in Port Everglades, FL. She enjoys fishing, hunting, scuba diving, shooting, kayaking, and line dancing. Charlotte is taking part in the Peer Mentorship Program to help new students transition and become active in the OC community.




KEELY WELLS, PEER MENTOR Keely is a M.S. student in the Marine Biology track. She is pursuing her capstone project which focuses on the effects of persistent organic pollutants and oil pollution on pinnepeds. Her hobbies include running, traveling, and reading. Keely sees that the mentoring program is a great way to not only get to know fellow mentors and current OC students, but it’s a chance to meet new incoming students. It’s an opportunity to serve as a leader at the OC by giving students advice and answer their questions.

SHIRA JAYE ANTEBY, PEER MENTOR Shira is a M.S. student in the Biological Sciences track focusing her thesis in microbial genetics. She is currently working in Dr. Lopez’s lab on a mutagenesis experiment to study gene expression in marine microbes. She is also a lab assistant for the undergraduate microbiology class at NSU’s main campus. Shira is a member of NSU’s Scuba Crew, Chabad of Nova, and the American Society for Microbiology. Her hobbies included diving, snorkeling, beach days, and pipetting. She wants to be part of the peer mentoring program to reach out to new students and better acquaint them to graduate life at the OC and to help them with their questions or concerns.

SARA JAROSSY, PEER MENTOR Sara is a joint M.S. student in the Marine Biology/Coastal Zone Management track. She currently works for the USGS Seagrass Lab at the OC. Her hobbies include scuba diving, snorkeling, biking, comics, animation, video games, and traveling. Sara wants to help incoming students, just as she received help from the older students when she first started her graduate degree. She wants to help students with their questions about the graduate program and living in South Florida.

DANIELLE SATTELBERGER, PEER MENTOR Danielle is a M.S. student in the Marine Biology track. Her hobbies include swimming and scuba diving. She was motivated to take part in the mentoring program because she enjoys meeting new people. Danielle is excited to share her knowledge and expertise while helping new students develop.




ERIC BURDETT, PEER MENTOR Eric is a M.S. student in the Marine Biology track. He enjoys hanging out with friends, playing and watching sports, going to the beach, and making jokes and puns. Eric joined the mentoring program because he wanted to be involved at the OC as much as possible. He wants to build lasting relationships with staff and students and further his education in the field of marine biology. Most of all, he wants to have fun!

SHAWN MARTIN, PEER MENTOR Shawn is a M.S. student in the Coastal Zone Management/Marine Biology track. His hobbies include fishing, scuba diving, surfing, sailing, spearfishing, free diving, and playing guitar. Shawn wanted to be a mentor because of the importance of helping students transition into a new program, place of residence, and a new school. If a student is not pre-occupied with or under stress from the transition process then he/she is likely to be able to focus more on school and have an overall better initial experience. By having someone to help them where it is needed he feels that this will foster that transition and lead to an overall more driven student.

JEN SAVARO, PEER MENTOR Jen is a M.S. student in the Marine Biology track and is a second year student. Originally from Philadelphia, PA, she completed her B.S. degree in Marine Science at Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina. She currently works under the direction of Dr. Hirons and is using stable isotope analysis to investigate the connectivity between the mangrove and offshore reef fish populations. She enjoys diving, swimming, and spending time with friends. Her first year at the OC was filled with a combination of invaluable learning and adventurous opportunities. She now feels that she has a responsibility to share those experiences with the next class and to assure them that it is worth going through the complications of the first year struggles.

NSU-OC Beach Olympics


This e-newsletter was created to communicate with our OC Community about the exciting mentorship initiatives involving our students,


This e-newsletter was created to communicate with our OC Community about the exciting mentorship initiatives involving our students,