A. Gary Anderson
Graduate School of Management

Student Mentors Support Remote Learning Across the Globe

International students studying business virtually at UCR due to COVID-19 precautions receive valuable assistance from grad student mentors.
By Laurie McLaughlin |

Shuoqi (Kiara) Xiao is studying business at UC Riverside from the other side of the world. A Chinese student, she is necessarily earning her degree remotely due to coronavirus precautions as the university conducts courses virtually.

“Because of COVID-19, I can’t study on campus,” says Xiao, who is enrolled in the Master of Business Preparation Program (MBPP), a course of study for international students offering personalized advisement and assistance in applying to UCR’s A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management (AGSM) to pursue a master’s degree. The one-year master’s preparation experience normally includes on-campus academic, cultural, and social immersion, but, of course, Xiao and 14 other Chinese students are currently completing the program from afar.

MBPP Ambassador Mentorship program mentee AO Li and MBPP Ambassador Mentorship program mentor Yuxin Liu share remote learning tips

As a result, UCR’s business school created the new MBPP Ambassador Mentorship program: Current graduate students are paired with current MBPP students, like Xiao, and provide long-distance support. Some of the mentors were previous MBPP students themselves before enrolling in their master’s programs, and all mentors are current AGSM ambassadors, a team of grad students who represent the school and support its activities.

So, while Xiao and her peers are not in Riverside, she says, “I can indirectly know the daily life and activities on campus through conversations with my mentor. It helps me better understand American campus life and culture.”

MBPP mentors and mentees participate in game nights, regular check-ins, workshops, and one-on-one chats. They share study tips and discuss personal experiences—social and academic—that help bring UCR’s campus atmosphere to life for the newer students, as well as help them navigate both the grad school application process and know what to expect as a graduate student in the U.S.

“Having a mentor is extremely important because it provides professional socialization, and it instantly enhances the chances for success,” says mentor Amisha Sharma, a 2021 MBA student and co-chief ambassador. “The mentorship program is valuable for both the ambassadors and the current MBPP students.”

Ambassador mentor Isla Li agrees. “I’m so grateful for the friendship and experience I gained as an MBPP student in 2019, and I understand [my mentee] Sally’s current situation and the problems she might face,” says Li, a 2022 MBA student. “During the first quarter as a mentor, I also learned some remote learning skills myself.” 

Mentee Zhiyuan (Neil) Xu values the time he spends with his mentor. “We talk about many things, and I am able to get my questions answered. It is good to have some extra support.”

Within the Master of Business Preparation Program, students complete three years of undergraduate study at their home university followed by a year at the UCR Business School earning 36 upper-division undergraduate units. As a result, they earn both a bachelor’s degree from their home university and a certificate from UCR Extension. They may then apply to a graduate management program and study at UCR or another university.

As with so many expectations for the future, the hope is that the preparation program will resume on campus in the coming academic year. In the meantime, the mentor pairs are learning from each other, a silver lining to a universally unexpected situation.

“Connecting with my mentee and discussing how we’re going to navigate the mentorship has deepened my sense of purpose as an ambassador, and I’m excited to see my mentee embark on the same journey I did a year ago,” says David Ayrapetyan, a 2022 MBA student. “The unexpected element is that this has been a great way for me to reflect on my personal programs and think about what I can do to continue growing as a person and a student.”


Learn more about the Master of Business Preparation Program (MBPP):

MBPP page