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April 15, 2014

IU psychology students mentor middle schoolers

(Continued)

Brooke Shafer, who is majoring in psychology at IU, pointed out "the prefrontal cortex is not developed yet." Because this portion of the brain is still maturing, teens are more likely to be impulsive and less rational, sometimes doing things without considering the consequences. "They're very influenced by their peers and gender roles in the media," Shafer said.

Anthony Rodriguez, a psychology and philosophy major at IU, is the only male student in the program. He points out that the feelings of adolescent girls are sometimes dismissed as melodrama. He encourages others to take them seriously. "Treat them with respect, and offer them alternatives," he said. "It's important to them at the time, and their problems are serious. Whether or not they may be unrealistic, they can lead to unhealthy thoughts."

From Shafer's point of view, "a mentor can make a world of difference."

She has seen students who are insecure and shy come out of their shell and become more confident as they progress through the mentoring program. "We hope they'll open up and we can set a positive example," Shafer said.

The chance to come on campus and meet with professors is an added bonus. "It gets them excited about college," she said.

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