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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

International Student Success Peer Mentor Program

International Student Success Peer Mentor Program

The Advising Center of the College of Arts and Sciences and Maxwell School of Citizenship sponsors the International Student Success Peer Mentor program to assist the incoming first year and transfer international students at the Arts & Sciences and Maxwell with successful transitioning to Syracuse University. The unit of International Student Success within the Advising Center matches current student with incoming student to create a supportive community.

About the Peer Mentoring Program

The Advising Center’s International Student Success Peer Mentor program aims to assist new international students to make a successful academic adjustment to Syracuse University, and increase the engagement and academic achievement of international students.

The unit of International Student Success selects peer mentors through an application and interview process based on a list of selection criteria in March. The selected peer mentors will then be paired with incoming students, approximately 10 new international students per mentor, in May or as soon as soon as the new international students make commitment to attend Syracuse University. The unit of International Student Success provides comprehensive training to the selected peer mentors before they reach out to new students. In summer, peer mentors start to contact new students online. In the fall semester, the mentorship group will start to work together and participate in a variety of activities.

This International Student Success Peer Mentor Program serves as a valuable opportunity not only to new students, but to mentors who seek to develop leadership skills and grow professionally.


To help new international students attending the College of Arts and Sciences and Maxwell School of Citizenship successfully transit into Syracuse University


  1. Demonstrate new students how to utilize academic resources and opportunities
  2. Help new students analyze the college’s academic requirements and expectations
  3. Develop leadership skills and professionalism of peer mentors

Being a Peer Mentor

Mentor Responsibilities

It is estimated that each mentor may devote two to three hours per week to the mentoring program.

  • Meet with mentees as one group one hour per week for 13 weeks
  • Respond to mentee email/phone/text within 24 hours of receiving them
  • Attend at least one on-campus and one off-campus event with mentees as one group
  • Attend the new international student welcome event in August
  • Write two reflection journals and submit via Blackboard
  • Attend mentor training in April and monthly mentor meeting during the fall semester
  • Contact mentees starting in May for informal communication

Mentor Selection Criteria

  • Be a full-time undergraduate degree seeking student in high academic standing (rising sophomore, junior, and senior)
  • Cumulative GPA: 3.0
  • Be able to commit to a one-semester appointment (Fall 2022)
  • Excellent English verbal and written communication skills
  • Have great interpersonal and intercultural skills
  • Have ability to empower others
  • Have knowledge of campus and community
  • Meet all program time commitments

Benefits of Being a Peer Mentor

  • Receive one CAS 270 credit in Fall 2022(within 19 credits)
  • Receive an award certificate
  • Receive a graduation medallion
  • Earn 45 volunteer/community engagement hours
  • Receive recommendation to participate in A&S and Maxwell career immersion programs (enhance your application but does not guarantee a spot)
  • Have an opportunity to receive a letter of reference/recommendation for job and/or graduate program
  • Gain competences specified by Syracuse University: Communication Skills, Critical and Creative Thinking, and Ethics, Integrity, and Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion
  • Develop professional skills that can be applied to future career and educational endeavors: Leadership, professionalism, collaboration, accountability, adaptability, communication, conflict management, time management, problem solving, and initiative.
  • Engage in intercultural experiences and strengthen cross-cultural communication skills
  • Contribute to internationalizing and diversifying our campus and community
  • Developing long lasting friendships with peers from all around the world


  • Selection for 2022-2023 Peer Mentors has concluded. We will start to recruit Peer Mentor again in February 2023.


Ling Gao LeBeau, Ph.D.
Associate Director of International Student Success
312 Hall of Languages

Meet the Mentors


Jacob Leisawitz
Class of 2024
Majors: Biochemistry and Neuroscience
Hometown: Monroe, Connecticut

Hello! My name is Jacob Leisawitz, I am a sophomore at SU majoring in Biochemistry and Neuroscience on a Pre-Medical track. Since my first year of college was during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am aware of many of the challenges that come with adjusting to college life. I have established a supportive community around me at SU that has helped me to succeed so far, and I want to help other students do the same. I participated in a similar mentorship style program in my first year, where I learned the value of a peer mentor. I look forward to being able to take the support I have received and pay it forward to my peers.


Mariya Tazi
School Year: 2024
Home town: New Milford, CT
Languages: English, Arabic, Darija, & a little bit of French

Hello!! I'm Mariya Tazi, I'm looking forward to being a mentor and resource for International Students on campus to reach out to for any help. I am a sophomore majoring in Psychology and Neuroscience on a pre-med track. There can be challenges and questions when transitioning into college and being a mentor is giving me a great opportunity to help others to make the transition easier! I am here to help lead students into having a successful and great experience at SU! I am very excited to be a part of the journey!

Simeng Zhao .jpg

Simeng Zhao
School year: Junior
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Major: Selected Studies in Education & Psychology
Hometown: Shenzhen, China
Languages: Mandarin, English, and a little Japanese

Hi friends, my name is Simeng “Maggie” Zhao. We all know that it is extremely critical for new students to survive their first year of college. As a peer mentor, I am here to help you to succeed and feel more connected to Syracuse University. I am happy to help in any way I can and I hope you all have an amazing time here at SU!


Jessica Yu
School Year: Sophomore
Major: Television, Radio and Film
Language: Chinese (Mandarin), English

Welcome to Syracuse University. I am Yan(Jessica) Yu, a sophomore who is majoring TRF, Newhouse. From my personal opinion, the International Student Success Peer Mentor Program could really be helpful, because I have benefited a lot from it myself when I was a mentee. I am really excited to be a part of the program this semester, and I'm confident we're going to have the best time ever. Can’t wait to meet you guys, feel free to reach out anytime!

Previous Mentors


Sarah Un

Sarah Un

Economics with a minor in Business
Hometown: Macao, China

My name is Sarah and I am a Junior studying Economics. I know that there are additional challenges that international students may face during the transition to college life. I hope that I could act as an additional resource for you to use in order to address those challenges. Best of luck at SU!!!

Marwa Abedrabbah

Marwa M Abderabbah

Class of 2024
Rising Sophomore
Major: Psychology on pre-dental track
Hometown: Syracuse, NY
Language: English, Arabic

Hello, my name is Marwa Abedrabbah and I am a rising sophomore at Syracuse University. I am currently majoring in Psychology on the pre-dental track. My home country is Palestine, but I’ve spent most of my life here in Syracuse, NY. I can speak English and fluent Arabic. I am very excited to be chosen as a peer mentor for the Fall 2021 semester. I’ve always been passionate about helping others and taking on leadership positions, this will provide me with the opportunity to do both! I am looking forward to yet another great semester at SU with new international students whom I can help with their transition to Syracuse University, and guarantee an educational and fun experience at SU.

Francis Tang

Francis B. Tang

Class of 2023
Majors: Political Science / International Relations / Philosophy
Minor: Japanese Studies
Languages: English, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, a little bit Latin

I’m looking forward to connecting with our incoming students, providing the best support as I can.

Ziyu Huang

Ziyu Huang

School Year: Senior
Major: Accounting & Supply Chain Management
Minor: Economic
Hometown: Jiaxing (Zhejiang Province), China
Language: Chinese (Mandarin), English

Welcome to SU! This is Ziyu Huang, I believe there will be tons of issues you will face in the first year of college, but I'm here to help. Don't hesitate to reach out when you have questions! 2021 will be my fourth year in SU, there are many interesting stuff I would love to share with you to help you adopt new environment.😊 Go Orange!

Sythong Run

Sythong Run (see-tong)

Pronouns: She/They
Class of 2024
Majors: Public Health & Environment Sustainability and Policy
Hometown: Banteay Meanchey, Cambodia
Languages: Khmer & English

I was lucky to have a roommate who helped me settle in college and adjust to life here during such chaotic times. I want to pay it forward by becoming a peer mentor. I hope I can as be great of a friend as my current roommate. I am excited to work, grow, and learn with you and be a friend to you!

Qianqian Zhao

Qianqian Zhao

School year: 2024
Hometown: Zhejiang, China
Languages: English and Mandarin

Hi, I’m Qianqian (Tiffany) Zhao. I am so excited to be a peer mentor this year! When I was a freshman at SU, I found this peer mentoring program extremely helpful. My peer mentor helped me a lot when I met difficulties. I hope I can use my experiences to help new international students as well. Best wishes!

Jeffrey Hoffman

Jeffrey L. Hoffman II

Hello! My name is Jeff and I am a rising junior studying international relations and communications. I have a passion for foreign language, human rights and exploring and learning about other cultures. I myself am from Boston, MA and I studied abroad my first semester in Strasbourg, France. Next year I will be studying law and international organizations in Spain and France, and I cannot wait to explore other cultures and use my language abilities. I want to make sure every student feels comfortable and enjoys their time here on campus and I hope I can help make that happen!

Max Zhao

Ziwei (Max) Zhao

Class of 2024
Majors & Minor: Economics & Policy Studies, minoring in finance
Hometown: Boca Raton, Florida
Languages: English, Mandarin

I’m really happy to have this position this year! Being a freshman is so stressful, and I want to make my mentees’ first year as smooth as possible! I’m excited to get to know people from all different cultures, and help them in their transition to SU!

Simone Bellot

Simone Bellot

Class of 2023
Majors: Communication Sciences & Disorders and Neuroscience
Hometown: Nassau, Bahamas

As an international student myself, I am invested in making the international student experience at Syracuse University as enjoyable as possible. I am so excited to meet with my peers and help them to achieve their goals throughout their undergraduate career.

Younghyoun Jung

Younghyoun (Brian) Jung

Major: Biology
Minor: Chemistry
Hometown: Cheonan, South Korea
Languages: Korean, English

I am highly excited to meet the mentees and looking forward to build some strong connections within the groups. I will put my full dedication on helping mentees with some problems or solve some curiosities that new students might have as they settle down to the new environment.

Ulla Ali

Ulla Alli

School Year: Sophomore
Major(s), Minor(s): International Relations and French and Francophone Studies, Arabic and Political Science
Languages: English, Arabic, and French

I'm so excited and honored to be a peer mentor for the Fall 2021 semester! I hope to guide students through their first semester at SU and help them experience a smooth transition into the SU community.

Xiaoman Hu

Ava Hu

I am a sophomore studying broadcast journalism and marketing. I come from Beijing, China, growing up with Peking ducks. I have a three-year-old cat and a 14-year-old sister, but I like the former better. I start reporting seven years ago, covering news from local delivery men to Biden’s election. I am a smarter writer in Mandarin than I am in English. From hundreds of articles I wrote, more than millions of people have read my words.

Xinyi You

Xinyi You

Class of 2024
Major: Psychology
Language: English & Mandarin Chinese

I am very glad to be a peer mentor this year! I hope I can help you as much as possible to get used to life and academics in Syracuse. Hopefully, we can become friends through this program.

Heaven Vega

Heaven L. Vega

As a new student, I know that it is hard during these very difficult times . I personally know that deciding to dorm in a university, far from home, is a difficult decision. When I decided to come here, I had my doubts at first. However, I soon realized that it is possible to be academically successful, while still being active, in order to have a great college experience if you make positive choices and reach out to others. I know that not everyone will know how to take these steps; so I would like to be that person to reach out to them and show them how.

Ciara Young

Ciara Young

Major: International Relations
Hometown: Liverpool, NY
Languages: English (native), Spanish and Korean

I am grateful to have the opportunity to be a peer mentor this fall and am excited to meet and exchange experiences with the incoming mentees. As I pursue my goals to facilitate intercultural exchange and aid others on a larger scale as I enter the professional world, I hope to help them fulfill their own greatest potential and goals on this campus, as others have helped me, and to create great memories in the process!

Olivia DeMarco

Olivia DeMarco

School year: Sophomore, rising Junior
Major: Political Science Minors: Global Security Studies & Communication and Rhetorical Studies
Hometown: Bernardsville, New Jersey

Hi! Transitioning to college life was challenging, but I am eager to help make the adjustment to being a part of the Syracuse University community easier! I am excited to meet the mentees and I cannot wait to be a guide, resource, and friend to you all!

Elizabeth Davis

Elizabeth Davis

I am so excited to work as a peer mentor and help as many international students feel as comfortable as they can! I want to use my experience here to help the new students with the transition for them to succeed and enjoy their time at Syracuse both inside and outside of the classroom.

Fiona Feng

Fiona Feng

School Year: Sophomore
Major: Economics
Language: English, Mandarin

Welcome to Syracuse University!! It is my pleasure to be your resource for your first year at Syracuse. I am thrilled to share my first year's experiences and advice with you. GO ORANGE!

Melina Lavarone

Melina Lavarone

School year: Class of 2024
Major: Psychology/Pre-law
Hometown: Westchester, NY
Languages: English and some Italian

I hope to develop strong relationships with my mentees; my goal is to make the transition and acclimation to Syracuse University easier, more comfortable, and fun! I can’t wait to learn all about the new students I meet and help them succeed.

Amanda Letts

Amanda Letts

Class of 2024
Major: Biology
Hometown: Hamilton Township, NJ
Language: English

After adapting to college during a national pandemic, I know most can relate when I say it was not easy. I am always looking for ways to help others and I'm glad I have the opportunity to make the transition to college even a little bit easier for international students. In addition, I wanted to become a peer mentor to bond with a diverse group of people and gain a new perspective on different cultures. Cant wait to meet everyone!

Ryan St Jean

Ryan St Jean

Year: Class of 2024
Major: International Relations
Hometown: New York City
Languages: English and a little French

I'm very excited to serve as a Peer Mentor this semester. The transition into college can be a very stressful and challenging time, especially for international students. The Syracuse University community is welcoming and has much to offer. I hope to play a positive part in the journey my mentees are beginning. I look forward to assisting them as they enter a new environment and providing them with the knowledge and resources to succeed.

Zhijie Han

Zhijie Han

Hi, I'm Zhijie! I am a rising sophomore. I was born and raised in Jilin, China, and this is my fifth year in the U.S. I speak Mandarin, Korean and I'm learning Russian now. I'm super excited to be a peer mentor and look forward to meeting and working with all of you.

Tianyi Jia

Tianyi Jia

School Year: Junior
Major, Minor: Applied Math, Economics
Hometown: Beijing,China
Languages: Mandarin, English

Hi guys, welcome to Syracuse University. I am a junior year international student and I’m so glad to be a peer mentor in 2021 fall. My goal to help you to get familiar with our campus and get on track of this fun journey! Also, I will be sharing my study and living stories to you, and if you want to hangout but you are afraid of making friends? Don’t worry! Let’s just go and grab a cup of coffee! Enjoy your collage life my friend!

Ava Lombardi

Ava Lombardi

My name is Ava Lombardi, I am a Syracuse University student in the class of 2024 from Madison, CT! I am studying Writing and Rhetoric and in my free time I love to sing and hang out with my friends and family. I am so excited to be a Peer Mentor and lend a hand to other students, and learn from the them in the process!

Lorelai Meija

Lorelai Mejia

School Year: Sophomore
Major: Communication Sciences and Disorders; Psychology
Hometown: Schenectady, New York
Languages: English, Spanish

Being a new student on a college campus that you are not familiar with can be very intimidating and cause some feelings of discomfort. As a freshman, I remember feeling all those emotions and having many questions from academics to navigating campus. As a peer mentor, I want to be that individual who can help students with the adjustment to college as it is not easy nor is it impossible.

Zixin Jia

Kelly Jia

Class of 2022
Major: Economics, Applied Math
Hometown: China
Languages: Mandarin, English

I want to be proactive in supporting mentees and build a long-term relationship with them. I hope that with my help, students can transition smoothly to freshman life.

Previous mentors