What Men­tors Of­ten Miss

She was a seem­ing­ly qui­et, in­tro­spec­tive stu­dent. On the sur­face, her in­tro­ver­sion didn’t bode well for her suc­cess in my pub­lic-speak­ing course at the Community College of Phil­a­del­phia. While oth­er stu­dents were of­ten loud and more gre­gar­i­ous, she said very lit­tle in class. Nev­er­the­less, I could al­ways tell she was en­gaged. From the way her eyes held mine when I ex­plained how to ef­fec­tive­ly in­cor­po­rate re­search into a pres­en­ta­tion, and from the way she me­thodi­cal­ly out­lined and de­liv­ered her speech­es, I knew this stu­dent was pay­ing at­ten­tion.

At the close of the se­mes­ter, I pulled the young wom­an aside and asked a­bout her plans. What did she want to do with her life? How did she plan to ex­e­cute those plans? She ex­plained that she want­ed to con­tin­ue her stud­ies, hope­ful­ly ob­tain her bach­e­lor’s de­gree at Temple University, and pos­si­bly even pur­sue a mas­ter’s de­gree. Her am­bi­tion im­pressed me, and since, at the time, I was launch­ing a small in­die press, I asked her if she would like an op­por­tu­ni­ty to in­tern with the com­pa­ny. She said yes, and our re­la­tion­ship was born.

It would be sev­er­al months, how­ev­er, be­fore our con­nec­tion de­vel­oped into a men­tor-men­tee re­la­tion­ship. In that time, I not only learned a­bout her ca­reer as­pi­ra­tions but also dis­cussed with her at length her ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ship with her longtime boy­friend and even her spir­i­tu­al wrestlings. Those per­son­al as­pects of our ex­pe­ri­ence to­geth­er would shift­ the way I viewed men­tor­ing. <Read more.>

Via Tracey M. Lewis-Giggetts, The Chronicle of Higher Education.