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The Edge Members

The EDGE Experience

The EDGE Experience is a mentorship program hosted by the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI) for first-generation students from Baltimore City Public Schools. Join in your first year and gain support for your full college career at McDaniel.

Apply to McDaniel Learn about the ODEI

Educate. Develop. Grow. Empower.

The EDGE Experience is a mentorship program for students from Baltimore City Public Schools who are first-generation college students. From year one at McDaniel, EDGE provides a comprehensive collegiate experience to ensure students have an edge up on the competition after graduation.

Here's how EDGE supports students:

  • Academic and career workshops
  • Peer mentorship
  • Fun social events
  • Leadership roles
  • Networking opportunities
  • Backpack and school supplies
Two students stand behind a sno cone ice machine at a table with a banner above them reading EDGE Experience.

Students Quira Bolling (l) and Lyanna Dangerfield (r) representing the EDGE Experience with a Baltimore snowball stand at the 2024 Out of Darkness: A Celebration of Light event.

How to Get Involved

All students who graduated from Baltimore City Public Schools qualify for the EDGE Experience. Participation is optional, but it's an opportunity you won't want to miss!

During the academic year, students attend academic enrichment meetings and periodic social functions. They are also paired with a student mentor (a fellow McDaniel student who completed the EDGE Experience in their first year) who will provide advice and support. As a member of the EDGE Experience, you will be given a brand new backpack and school supplies!

Two students walk toward the camera on campus during a fall day.

EDGE Student Perspectives

Learn firsthand from students about the EDGE Experience.

Read a Q&A with an EDGE mentor

Psychology major Janiah Fields joined the EDGE Experience in 2021, her first year at McDaniel. Now a junior, she has mentored fellow EDGE students, gained leadership experience, and found confidence in her career path.

Looking back, what was the best part of joining the EDGE Experience in your first year of college? What made you want to join?

The best part of joining EDGE was the access I had to resources, whether it was students, offices, or literal school supplies. I knew that I could ask EDGE questions and they would do their best to get me the answers I needed. Initially, I didn’t really know anything about EDGE. I started at McDaniel during the pandemic and didn’t get to do a lot of things that we do now, but the former director sent out an email saying that the program was for Baltimore City Public School students, and I thought it would be a good idea to find a community that could support me as someone who was just starting college.

How has EDGE made a difference in your college career?

Being in EDGE has put my name in high places. People ask me to participate in really great opportunities to connect with the larger McDaniel community such as panels, dinners, and mixers. This is important for me as I consider myself a community advocate. If I can get into those spaces, I can raise questions and concerns to those in higher positions and advocate for myself and students that may not feel comfortable doing so.

Why did you become an EDGE mentor?

I’m a Psychology major and a mental health advocate, so giving back and really hearing people are a big part of my philosophy as a human being, but also as someone who wants to pursue a career in the mental health field. Additionally, I want my mentees to understand that my experience as a student coming from Baltimore City Public Schools has shown me that we are just as capable of going to college and thriving as everyone else. I’m here to be whatever first-year students need me to be, a tour guide, an advocate, or just someone to talk to. I know that even though I’m a student and close to a lot of them in age, I do have an impact. I try to do whatever I can, not only to ensure that their first year is successful, but so that they continue this journey at McDaniel College.

What does being a mentor mean to you?

Being a mentor to me means lending a helping hand. When I think of myself as a mentor, I don’t think of myself ranking above anyone. We are one and the same; I’ve been in many of these students’ shoes. College is hard, you shouldn’t have to do it alone. In my time as a mentor, I’ve learned just as much as the first-year students. They teach me so much. It is a mutual interaction where we both gain so much from each other.

How do you support first-year students?

I typically support them by having very low-stakes meetings; we can meet up wherever they want (I’ve even had a meeting walking around campus). During these meetings we have intentional conversations about school, goals, personal life, whatever my mentees feel comfortable sharing with me. Ideally this happens twice a month. My mentees have my number so if they are unable to meet, we talk via text, Zoom, etc. If they need me, they know they can reach out.

What’s one thing new college students should know before starting their first year?

When coming to college, it’s important to know that there will be obstacles. It may be a class, or social life, or just homesickness, but don’t let any of it deceive you. You can do it! Once you start believing that, nothing can stop you.

Hear from a first-year EDGE student

“EDGE is not just about mentorship; it’s also a community of people.”

Christian Wright joined EDGE in the fall of 2023, his first semester at McDaniel. Since then, he’s gained confidence and connection through a program he’d recommend to incoming students from Baltimore City Public Schools. Besides EDGE, Christian is a student worker in ODEI, secretary for the Black Student Union (BSU), BSU representative for the Cultural Leadership Council, and an advisory board member of Black Men of Resilience and Excellence (BMORE). Below, he shares about EDGE in his own words.

Feeling empowered with EDGE

When I first learned about the EDGE Experience, I was like, “All right, cool. Mentoring and monthly meetings? I can do that.” I get some mentoring, find out more about college and how it operates. Why not?

I’m majoring in Mathematics, and I plan to do McDaniel’s accelerated bachelor’s to master’s pathway for Secondary Education. I’ve been told I’m ahead of the game as a first-year student because I know what I want to do. I just need to know how to do it here.

College is something that you want, so, you have to make sure that you get what you need in order for you to succeed. The EDGE program has turned out to be extremely helpful with that, through networking and mentorship.

From mentor to mentee

I was a mentor in high school, so going from being a mentor to a mentee felt like a huge jump. I appreciate how my EDGE mentor Alishia reaches out to me instead of it being the other way around. She’s been really helpful with advice about life and college stuff. Despite us having two different majors, but she’s even helped me find resources for my Math major.

I’m a big believer in passing on the torch, so I’m definitely looking forward to becoming a mentor next year.

Finding a college community

But EDGE is not just about mentorship; it’s also a community of people. Sure, mentee/mentor is the main relationship within the program, but there’s also a community aspect to it. The EDGE meetings are a mix of learning from other people and socializing with other EDGE students. We also have plenty of fun.


to the McDaniel community, EDGE peers, mentors, and alumni


in EDGE events, McDaniel community service, and social, educational, and career events


from students, staff, faculty, and community members, plus resources to enhance retention and matriculation


lifelong learners and thriving citizens with connection to the McDaniel community and EDGE Experience

A Four Year Journey

As you progress through your college journey, the EDGE Experience will present new ways to further your personal, professional, and academic goals. In this program designed around support and mentorship, you'll connect with peers, alumni, and college faculty and staff at every turn.

First Year: EDGE Apprentice

  • Paired with an EDGE mentor
  • Attend monthly meetings and events
  • Receive first-year survival kit

Sophomore Year: EDGE Advocate

  • GPA 2.5
  • Become EDGE mentor to Apprentices
  • Attend mentor programming and monthly events with mentees
  • Assist with McDaniel Local
  • Receive second-year survival kit

Junior Year: EDGE Ambassador

  • GPA 2.7
  • Become EDGE alumni mentee and meet monthly with EDGE alumni mentor
  • Become EDGE mentor to Advocates
  • Attend mentor programming
  • Assist with McDaniel Local
  • Receive third-year survival kit

Senior Year: EDGE Associate

  • GPA 2.7
  • Become EDGE Scholar, connect with Baltimore City high schools
  • EDGE alumni mentee, meeting monthly with EDGE alumni mentor (optional)
  • Become EDGE mentor to Ambassadors
  • Attend mentor programming and monthly EDGE meetings
  • Assist with McDaniel Local
  • Receive fourth-year survival kit and pre-graduation perks
Students jumping in the air on a sidewalk in downtown Westminster.

McDaniel Local Find Your Place

Your first official steps on the Hill as a new student will be at McDaniel Local. One of the hallmark experiences of the McDaniel Commitment, Local is an overnight summer experience that every incoming student participates in. You'll make new friends, learn about what it means to be a Green Terror, and become a local in Westminster. 

Connect with Us

Felicia Ellzy

Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion


Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion