Spring 2019

Pay It Panthers Forward

Yara Elbeshbishi on being an alumni mentor.

The University of Pittsburgh has earned praise nationwide for its innovative effort to help students pay for college. Panthers Forward (PF) will provide up to $5,000 for a graduating senior’s federal student loans with the expectation they will voluntarily pay it back in the future. The 150 soon-to-be graduates included in the inaugural effort have also been introduced to a network of alumni mentors. Among the mentors is Yara Elbeshbishi (UPB ’15, GSPH ’16).

Yara, why is it important for PF to include a mentorship component? Part of what makes earning a Pitt degree so renowned is the opportunities students have beyond the classroom—the relationships and experiences in which they partake—and those often stem from mentors. PF’s mentorship component is critical, not only for the success of the students but also for the Pitt community, in this new dynamic of connecting students with seasoned alumni. 


What made you volunteer to be a PF mentor?

I believe in “paying it forward.” My experience as a student on the Bradford and Pittsburgh campuses left me eager to offer support to students who are passionate about their professional and personal development beyond the classroom. 

Tell us about the mentorship support you received as a student.

The irreplaceable mentoring experiences and opportunities I had as a student at Pitt, more particularly at Pitt-Bradford, cultivated me into who I am today—a young professional in the health care policy/insurance arena. I am grateful to those mentors who truly helped pave the way during and following my college career.  

You have met several of PF’s inaugural class. What are your impressions?

It is a very impressive group. They’re eager, passionate, and dedicated—truly inspiring! I’m honored to be a small part of their journey at Pitt and beyond through this innovative program.

What advice would you give alumni who want to get involved with their alma mater?

Do it! You will be surprised at how much you get out of connecting with the campus, Pitt community, and students. Reach out to the Alumni Association, your Alumni Club or Council or any of your University contacts, and let them know you’re willing to be a resource. H2P!


Cover image: Yara Elbeshbishi

This story appeared in the Spring 2019 edition of Pitt Magazine.


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