This week’s pondering question is: Who has mentored you in your life and what has it meant to your life or career?
What is a mentor? I believe it is someone who gives graciously of themselves to help others learn and grow. I will go years back to tell you of my first mentor, my second grade teacher Mrs. Susan Franco. She was a first year teacher who had been a journalist in her past career. I remember thinking that was the most glamorous job ever: journalist! Second grade was a very hard year for me as my parents got divorced (back in the days when parents didn’t get divorced) and she was so kind to me.
My first grade teacher was mean, yelled at us all and thankfully retired that year. Mrs. Franco was so kind to me and I used to stay after school to help her with things in the classroom. Being a writer herself, she encouraged us all to write more and be creative. I remember writing my spelling words into a story instead of just sentences. She made me feel special and that I had a voice in the world. Believe it or not, I used to be pretty quiet when I was little and she really helped me to love school as well as writing. Her positive influence and believing in me at a time when I really needed a boost made a huge impact on me. Thank you Mrs. Franco!
Thoughts from Ellen Bremen
It’s pretty easy to answer: Dr. Clifford McClain was my primary professor in my Bachelor of Science degree in Post-Secondary Education at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He impacted my career more than any other professor, including in graduate school.
First of all, while some of my grad school profs frowned upon my seemingly “less-than” goal of teaching at a community college, Dr. McClain totally got it. He supported my desire to be a full-on educator, not a researcher, who teaches incrementally. Additionally, Dr. McClain taught me everything I know about adults and the nuances of how they learn. I use Dr. McClain’s instruction literally every single day I’m in the classroom, far more so than my graduate work. His teachings on objectives, task analyses, and mastery learning are ingrained in my teaching philosophy; I have a somewhat unconventional approach to my instruction, at times, but it has yielded me four national teaching awards. Finally, Dr. McClain’s lessons on lessons–specifically, lesson planning–propelled me far beyond the classroom. Crazy as it may sound, not all professors receive training in crafting lessons; it depends on how they were trained in graduate school. Because my undergrad degree is in college teaching, I had opportunity after opportunity to hone my craft and practice delivering the lessons I was writing in front of my fellow students. Because of this training, I have been a highly sought-after curriculum designer in the private sector, for many academic publishers, and for major grants, including the Gates Foundation. When my husband became unemployed in the 2008 rash of layoffs, I was able to command some handsome fees for this “extracurricular” work.
I really didn’t look at Dr. McClain as a mentor at the time that I was in his program. I just thought he was a really congenial and knowledgeable professor. It has only been since I’m a professor, myself, that I see how much he influenced and impacted my entire career. I only hope that I can pay it forward to my own students, giving them the personal and professional communication tools to find abundant fulfillment and success.
Thoughts from Kelly Kim
My current mentor and boss (and, full disclosure, my husband) Eric Kim, http://tweets.kabaim.com/ has enabled me to step into a whole new level of possibility and power in my work and career.
He has taught me:
- To focus on what is real and to eliminate what is false from my reality;
- To believe in myself and the potency of my gifts, strengths and talents;
- To ask the right questions because in my intelligent questions, intelligent solutions are made obvious;
- To stay in possibility and not in conclusions and judgments;
- To relax and not take things too seriously or personally; and
- To focus on what I do want and not on what I don’t want.
Thanks, Eric, for believing in me, and big thanks to Peggy for this opportunity to share.
Thoughts from Brian Rice
I began my college career at Cabrini College as a Sports Medicine major however as a Freshman I was unable to register for any classes that were directly related to my major. As a result, the first college class that I took was Marketing Principles at 8:15am with Professor Ruby Remley. I was so impressed with how she connected marketing back to everything in life that I immediately changed my major after that initial class.
Upon graduation, she wrote the recommendation letter that helped me land my first job and get accepted into grad school. She continued to mentor me as I changed jobs by providing advice along the way. After 10 years we still keep in contact and last year she helped me fulfill my goal of teaching at the college level.
Two of the biggest lessons I have learned from my experience is the importance of networking and giving back and offering your time to mentor someone else.
Thoughts from Mila Araujo
Dr. Paul Saba, MD is a family physician and health care advocate. Early in my career, I met Dr. Paul while I was studying Public Relations in university. Despite having no experience, he was able to see my qualities, and took a chance by inviting me to work for his organization on a project he felt I would be well suited for. Simply working for an organization does not give you the deeper insight on how to be successful. It involves time and effort, teaching and care. The field of public relations is very challenging. Dr. Paul took the time to get to know me, took a risk in investing in me, recognized my strengths and worked with me to develop my skills. He took the time to introduce me to the players who were important in our field, and teach me the culture of our specific environment. He gave me opportunities for growth with challenging projects. I learned from him that if you set your mind to something, you will accomplish it. Move forward always, envision your goal, work hard and everything will fall into place.
A mentor provides you the opportunity to partner for success. Over the years, as I have gone onto other projects, we have continued to collaborate together. The lessons he taught me, and the kindness in which he guided me, or the determination with which he pushed me has taught me how to lead in my own team. How to build projects from nothing into success. The beauty of having the gift of a mentor is that when you have been shown this kindness, guidance and care, you learn yourself how to do this for others. Pay it forward. This equals success for everyone as we build each other up, to make this a better world. Collaboration is key to human success. This gift is something I will be forever grateful for, and to those who work for me now, it’s a gift I take pride in being able to share as I use the same care and interest to lead and guide others to achieving their goals.