Peer Mentors

Next Steps peer mentors, known as Ambassa’Dores, are undergraduate and graduate students who establish one-on-one relationships with students enrolled through Next Steps.

Next Steps Students & Ambassa'dores at a Vanderbilt football game

Our Next Steps Ambassa'Dore organization helps facilitate inclusive communities across campus. This commitment to inclusion is monumental. Ambassa'Dores and students collectively spend roughly 8,000-9,000 hours together each academic year!

These relationships facilitate the natural inclusion of our students in the campus community and provide an opportunity for reciprocal learning between diverse groups. Types of mentoring support include:

  • Lunch partners - focus on social skills and healthy eating goals.
  • Workout partners - help to increase stamina and establish safe exercise habits.
  • Academic tutors - assist students with academic work and encourage good study habits.
  • Daily planners - focus on organizational skills and completion of Next Steps program requirements (e.g. scheduling, journal).
  • Campus Life Ambassa'Dores (CLA) - plan alongside students and participate in campus life opportunities together (e.g. football game, service project).

Ambassa'Dores attend training that serves as an orientation for new members and provides them with information about the students, the program, and strategies to support the students most effectively. Ongoing support from Next Steps staff is available to problem-solve any issues or challenges that may arise.

Enjoying lunch together
Studying together

Ambassa'Dore Program Structure

Circles of Support

Each student has an individualized number of Ambassa'Dore who make up their circle of support. First-year students are scheduled with about seven Ambassa'Dores. All Ambassa'Dore sessions last for 1 hour, so seven Ambassa'Dores equals 7 hours of time together each week. Circle members and the student work together to promote growth throughout the semester. Each circle has a Lead Ambassa'Dore who facilitates communication among the circle, collaborates with Next Steps staff, and works with the Next Steps student to organize at least one circle social event during the semester. 

Social Events

The Ambassa'Dore Executive Board coordinates several program-wide social events for all students and Ambassa'Dore each semester, often collaborating with upperclassmen in Next Steps to make plans. These activities foster deeper friendships, a broader sense of community, and further increase our students' involvement in campus life offered to all Vanderbilt students. Examples include Halloween parties, attending Vanderbilt sporting events, and many other inclusive campus offerings.

Vanderbilt Student Organization

The Ambassa'Dore were established as an official student organization in 2013. They have an executive board of student leaders along with the aforementioned Lead Ambassa'Dores for each student. The passion and enthusiasm of the Ambassa'Dores and its student leaders have helped increase awareness and acceptance of the Next Steps program throughout the university. 

Next Steps has become such a huge part of my life. I was excited to volunteer in the first place, but it's amazing how much it changed me. It is much more than just helping out our peers. These students really enhanced my Vanderbilt experience and have become my friends. All along I thought I'd be making a difference in their lives when in reality, they're making a difference in mine.

Rebecca Moody
Tuesday dinners
Ambassa'Dore workouts

Next Steps has had a tremendous impact on me personally and in the Vanderbilt community. Being able to interact daily with the Next Steps students is something I cherish. They have made me a better person, and I think everyone would benefit greatly from becoming an Ambassa'Dore for Next Steps.

Newton Adkins
Studying together

Being an Ambassa'Dore has been so much more than a weekly act of community service. I've gained a friend who's always there to tell me a story, cheer me up, and remind me that my upcoming paper really isn't as important as it seems. When the academic stress of Vanderbilt overwhelms me, my Next Steps student is there as a friend and as a respite.

Taylor Dickinson