Looking back on my pathway into student affairs, I can’t help but think about the many people that have helped me get here. As I reflect on the role that mentors have played in my life, I can’t help but feel grateful. My mentors come from a variety of fields and experiences including student affairs, academic affairs, church and community organizations. Despite their vocational differences, all of my mentors have served the same purpose: to support my personal growth and professional development.
When I think about mentorship, I think of a trusting, honest and supportive relationship built on the mutual understanding that the mentor is to serve as a resource to the mentee. So how is this relationship formed? Many would advise that you actively seek out potential mentors by finding people that can serve as potential references and are active and successful in your career field of interest. In other words, seek out mentors that are in a position to help you get where you want to be. Although I understand why someone would be strategic in choosing their mentor, in my experience it has never worked out this way.
Many of those that I have come to know as mentors started out as professional relationships. Most of them were past supervisors, professors, or church leaders of mine and it wasn’t necessarily my intention to build the solid relationship I have with them now. These relationships have been built through both of our willingness to share our lives with one another. Because my mentors share similar values, passions and desires to grow both personally and professionally, it became natural for our relationship to go deeper than was perhaps intended. My mentors are individuals who are now a significant part of my life. They are role models that are interested in my holistic development. They challenge me, allow me to make mistakes, and provide me with opportunities that are meaningful and aligned with my interest.
I am looking forward to having another mentor in my life through the SUSDA peer mentor program. I am excited to have the opportunity to create a relationship with someone that is just as passionate about working with college students as I am. Although this is only a one year commitment, I hope that like my other mentor relationships that this year will only be the beginning of a long term personal and professional relationship.