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Mentorship Through Exercise

"Mentorship Through Exercise" is a UREC program that provides JMU students the opportunity to have a positive mentor-mentee relationship with faculty/staff outside of the formal classroom setting. 

Well-being of college students is influenced by several factors, including a sense of belonging, a connection to the campus culture, as well as the influence of physical activity. Mentoring has been shown to effectively connect students to faculty on their campus in a way that has the potential to increase the students’ sense of belonging to the campus community. The Mentorship Through Exercise Program brings together the positive elements of mentoring and physical activity into one intervention.  

Our hope is that students and faculty/staff that select into the program will participate in UREC’s wide variety of programs and/or facilities together. Participants will be sent regular program updates, as well as informal conversation topics that could be discussed while exercising. Any JMU faculty/staff and students with access to UREC who are interested are welcome to participate.


"Mentorship through Exercise brought the opportunity to meet faculty and staff in a way most students never get to experience. So much of college you are talking to professors and faculty members in a strictly professional or academic setting with little personal connection. This program goes beyond that. I was able to connect with Donnie and Erica, not just as faculty members of JMU, but in a personal way through our workouts. During our workouts, we would talk about our backgrounds, jobs, classes, and lives. It was so great to get to know them in this fashion because so many students don’t get to do that. Donnie and Erica became more than just faculty members of JMU in my eyes but great friends of mine!"

-Kellen Sweeney, JMU Alumni, Enterprise Technology & Development Associate at Highmark Health

faculty and staff with mentee

What is the time commitment/expectation?

The expectation is that each pair meets weekly for the duration of the semester (10- 12 weeks). Meeting times will be determined by each mentor group individually.

What is the expected length of the relationship?

We hope that relationships built through the program will be long-lasting. The commitment for the program is one semester (about 10 weeks). At the end of each semester, we will ask both the mentor and mentee if they’d like to continue in the program.

How will faculty be supported in the mentoring relationship?

UREC will provide a brief training for faculty/staff mentors. They will also be available throughout the experience to help answer questions/concerns and hear about triumphs.

Does the faculty member need to have experience in a certain area of recreation?

You have the choice on the registration form as to how you would like to be paired with a mentee or mentor which can be based on academic interest, recreational interest, both or neither. There is not a certain skills level required for the recreational or fitness interests.

What if I have specific requests of who I want to be paired with (ex. major, gender, identity)?

For a mentorship relationship to be mutually beneficial, both parties must be comfortable. If you have any specific requests for your pairing you can list those on the form. If you know of someone you would already like to be paired with, we can make that work too!

What do I do if my mentor/mentee does not communicate with me for several weeks after the initial email?

You can email the program coordinators Erica Foltz (, UREC's Assistant Director for Operations and Tim Howley (, JMU Health Sciences Professor, to help navigate initial meetings or any issues that arise throughout the experience.

How do I sign up?

See below: You will be contacted via email by the program coordinators once you are paired.


If you have questions about the Mentorship Through Exercise program, please contact the program coordinators Erica Foltz, UREC's Assistant Director for Operations, and Tim Howley, JMU Health Sciences Professor.

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