MONTEREY (NNS) -- For many new Sailors, adjusting to the demanding training regimen of "A" school can be an overwhelming experience. This is especially true for the Sailors assigned to Information Warfare Training Command (IWTC) Monterey as they prepare to begin the first phase of their occupational training.
IWTC Monterey, located with the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, serves as the "A" school for all of the Navy's linguists. Students are enrolled in basic language acquisition courses ranging in length from 39 to 64 week. It is considered to be one of the Navy's most difficult "A" schools.
The staff at IWTC Monterey understands the challenge these new Sailors are preparing to face, and in late 2016 they created a student mentor program.
The program designates senior students to help incoming Sailors acclimate to the Navy, the military, and the area, as well as gives them tips for how to manage their time and priorities in an effort to ensure their success in the various language courses.
"I appreciate the command getting as involved as it has with this program, because I know that a lot of the students here are seeking guidance or advice through other mediums," said Seaman Bianca Floyd, one of the most senior student mentors. "When I was briefed on it, I felt like it was something that I was kind of doing anyway, but this program gave me the platform to reach more people more effectively."
Each student mentor is paired with students who are enrolled in the same or similar language courses, and they begin briefings several weeks before the start of class and throughout the early stages of the course.
"I think it's an amazing opportunity to take the initiative to prepare the Sailors that are coming in with the knowledge that you have from having gone through everything," said Seaman Colleen McNally. "You understand what it takes to do well or try to do well, and you have the opportunity to teach them the things you wish you had known."
Student mentors serve as a tangible peer-to-peer link to assist new Sailors and set them up for success in their future training and careers. The program is structured to provide resources after the initial class stages, so student mentors are also identified on a daily basis by yellow badges worn in uniform.
"Sometimes you can see that they're a little nervous about a situation," said Seaman Mia Tamez. "If they're about to have a test, and you know their class, you can just go up and encourage them. I like keeping up with people. I think one of the best attributes about this program is being able to know so many different people here."
The mentors also build skills that they will carry with them into their future careers as Sailors and Navy linguists.
"I think in the long run, seeing as we'll have to give briefs later on in our career, the public speaking skills that we learn from this will be incredibly beneficial," said Seaman Jacob Lucas. "On that side of things, I'm very grateful for the program."
IWTC Monterey, as part of the Center for Information Warfare Training, provides a continuum of foreign language training to Navy personnel, which prepares them to conduct information warfare across the full spectrum of military operations.