Starting at a new university can be hard, but the Guiding Warriors Mentoring Program makes the transition easier for first year and transfer students coming to Winona State University. 

Through the program, new students are matched with mentors who can help them acclimate to their new surroundings and to Winona State.  

Mentors assist their mentees with a variety of things, including how to navigate campus and when to meet with their advisor. Mentors can also point their mentees toward resources on campus that may be useful to them. 

For many mentees, their mentor is a familiar face on campus who can help make the transition to college easier. 

The Guiding Warriors Mentoring Program originally started through WSU’s College of Science & Engineering and has since expanded into a campus-wide effort supported through the Equity & Inclusive Excellence and TRIO offices, as well as the Warrior Success Center and the Warrior Hub. 

The program’s enrollment is at its largest yet, with 234 new students joining the network in fall 2022. Additional enrollment during the spring semester brought the program to a total of 249 mentees and 89 mentors.

The program uses the Mentor Collective, an online software tool, to manage mentoring relationships. When students first join the program, they take Mentor Collective’s matching survey, which analyzes their answers and recommends mentor matches based on an algorithm.  

Nyapal Minyoang, a first-year student at Winona State, was paired with a mentor majoring in a field she is considering studying.  

“It’s awesome because she’s majoring in the same field I may want to major in, so we’re able to talk about her experience with different classes and what to expect. She’s helped me plan out more of what my future could look like [at Winona State],” said Minyoang. 

Freshman Dylan Raaen also enjoys having a mentor in the same degree program. It allows him to “ask more questions about the program’s requirements.”

“Everyone should have a mentor because then you always have someone to ask questions,” Raaen added.

The Guiding Warriors Mentoring Program has impacted the lives of many Winona State students, including Sophia Sailer. Sailer came to Winona State in the fall of 2020 during the height of the pandemic, so the mentoring program wasn’t available to her.

Although coming to college was a bit confusing for Sailer, she now knows that it doesn’t have to be for new incoming students.  

Nyapal Minyoang ’27

Dylan Raaen ’26

“I’m [a mentor] because I started [college] in 2020, and I know that if you don’t have a good experience, it can be really hard to get into this community,” said Sailer. 

Sophia Sailer ’24

Ashley Lenarz ’24

Thankfully, Sailer’s college experience has turned around since becoming a mentor. She now has three mentees with whom she can connect and whose college experiences she can positively impact.  

“Even though I’m a mentor, I’m still learning about [Winona State],” Sailer said. “When I connect with my mentees, it makes me feel more connected to the university.”

Ashley Lenarz, another student mentor, joined the program because she knows how confusing it can be to adjust to a new college.  

“I came from a small community college and coming to a four-year university was a big change,” she said. 

After transferring to Winona State, Lenarz joined the Guiding Warriors program. Her mentor was a huge help and inspired Lenarz to become a mentor herself. Like Sailer, Lenarz also enjoys that she can learn more about the university’s resources alongside her mentees.  

“[The program] has made me pay more attention to the resources available because I have to be able to point students to the resources they might need,” Lenarz said.  

“[Being a mentor] reminds me that you have to be patient with yourself [and others],” said Lenarz. At the end of the day, “we’re all growing and learning.”   

To learn more about the Guiding Warriors Mentorship Program, contact Tyler Treptow-Bowman, from the Office of Equity & Inclusive Excellence at WSU, at