Some moms and older students may find it silly to have a mentor. After all, mother knows best, right? And while we may be “seasoned” or “motherly” that doesn’t mean we know a thing about our majors or the careers that lies ahead. Most important, being a mom doesn’t automatically make us superhuman to the point of not needing direction. This topic is especially important to me because without my mentor I would most likely not be writing this blog.
During the Pearson Leadership Summit in Boston just a few weeks ago our group worked on a personal timeline project with Community College Success expert, Isa Adney. We had to draw our top 5 moments that impacted our life. While all 5 moments are important to me, the first and the last are most relevant to this post:
1988 – 4th grade class and Mr. Whalen telling me that a question I had asked was “the stupidest question” he had ever heard. I don’t remember the question I asked but I sure do remember his answer. After the picture I drew for my first moment on the timeline I included a squiggly line indicating a wall I had put up. I no longer enjoyed school. I got by enough to finish.
2011 – Finding my mentor, Betsy. Attending Betsy’s English class was the beginning of my own personal change. She broke down – or rather she ripped down the wall that had been built up wayyyyyy back in 1988. 23 years later I was ready to love school again and allow myself to consider the possibility that I could succeed.
So, here is why I recommend having a mentor:
1) You are going to have moments of weakness and you may already lack confidence or motivation.
Betsy empowered me. Sometimes she did so without words, and sometimes she did so with more words than I wanted to hear…and the truth may hurt at times but I respect anyone willing to stand up and be honest instead of sugar coating things for people. I no longer thought of myself as stupid and began to see myself as capable. Before I met her I had no confidence, very little self-worth and not even an inkling of belief that I could go on to receive a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
2) You are more than a mom, and you are allowed to dream, set goals and achieve those goals.
She helped me allow myself to dream. I used to believe that once I became a mother that was all I could be from that point on. I was not allowed to dream for myself or set personal goals. Anything and everything had to be for my children and that was that. Betsy blew that myth way out of my mind and that was one more step I took in the right direction — I went from having one goal: receiving an associate’s degree to setting goals to transfer and obtain a bachelors and masters degree.
3) Having someone to cheer you on is never a bad thing.
My mentor is in my corner. After earning A’s in all three of her classes (and let me tell you getting an A from her is NOT easy), and successfully graduating and transferring, I have someone who knows the college system, who knows me well enough to recommend me for jobs, scholarships and special programs and lastly, someone who will always be in my corner and believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. To me, that kind of relationship is irreplaceable.
It is because of the wall-ripping, truth giving, challenging, inspiring, motivating and supportive mentor I have that I am telling you that you will not go wrong if you find someone like Betsy was for me. Your college experience will be SO much better if you connect with a role model, I promise you that!
So how do you go about finding a mentor? Well, I was really fortunate because my mentor kind of took me under her wing pretty much from the start, but for those of you who just aren’t sure how to go about “getting” a mentor — I think Isa Adney’s video on this topic gives the best advice!