Mentoring Matters: A Mentor Does Not Have to Look Like Dumbledore

About the Writer: Rachel Becker is a sophomore here at the College of William & Mary with a keen interest in leadership theory.  In her free time she likes to re-read Harry Potter, organize her organizing and apparently write blog posts. 

Rachel Becker, student blogger.

Rachel Becker enjoying time in Colonial Williamsburg!

My youngest cousin, Lauren, is the spunkiest fourteen-year-old you will ever meet. She loves to laugh more than anything, her wit absolutely does not match her age and she is probably the most outspoken person I know. The adults in our family actually ask for her opinion on things and usually will follow; it is quite impressive. One time I saw them leave a restaurant right after they sat down just because Lauren knew the food down the street was better. I also think she skipped an awkward middle school phase, because she dresses better than I do on a daily basis and she is a freshman in high school which is really unfair and feels sacrilegious. But besides Lauren’s vibrant nature, she also has this incredible trait of self-confidence.

She is not afraid to stick up for herself or others and because of this I really look up to her, especially given her age. I am nearly ten years older, but I would consider her a mentor to me because she has a way of telling me she believes in me without having to explicitly state it. Her compliments are very personalized, and usually make you tilt your head but nonetheless are very sweet. One time she told me that a boy was dating me only because I had great hair. It was honestly so flattering. People like Lauren remind me that literally anyone can be a mentor, and you should never be afraid to admire someone even if they do not have a lot in common with you, that really anyone can be someone you look up to.

When I am faced with challenges whether it be socially or academically, I think of Lauren’s fervent confidence in me and it reminds me that I am completely capable of what I am trying to accomplish. Surrounding yourself with people who believe in you is something that can make a big difference in your life, just as it is important to remind the people around you that you believe in them.

As my young cousin always demonstrates to me and in honor of National Mentoring Month, here are three tips that I would give to any mentor:
1. Sometimes listening can be just as valuable as giving advice, letting someone know that they are heard and their remarks are valid can make a tremendous impact
2. Do not be afraid to share your own experiences, often that is what someone will remember you telling them more than responding with blanket statements
3. Be yourself! Someone looks up to you for being YOU, try to avoid worrying about what other people may think or about comparing yourself to others, your uniqueness is an advantage!

This blog serves as a part of the Office of Student Leadership Development’s celebration of National Mentoring Month in our “Mentoring Matters” campaign.

Mentoring Matters: The Great That I Am

About the Writer: Ebony Martin is a senior at the College of William & Mary. She is an Africana Studies major concentrating in African-American Studies. On campus, Ebony is involved in SPAN and serves as a research fellow for WMSURE. Ebony works in the Office of First Year Experience in undergraduate belonging and peer mentorship.

In response to the quote, “A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.”- Bob Proctor

I think this quote is amazing and I think it embodies everything that a mentor should be for you. I have been mentored and I have been a mentor and I know for a fact that had my mentor not seen more in me than I did in myself that I would not be where I am today. I was pushed exhaustingly, I was given all the tools that I needed to be successful, but I was also encouraged. I was told, “I needed to stay out of my own way; that I needed to stop letting my own limitations hold me back from the great that I am.”
Even more than all of these things, I was supported. I was watched over, all of my events were attended when it could be done, all of my accomplishments, both big and small were magnified. I was given the confidence that I always wanted and needed. I feel like to be a mentor, you and your mentee have decided together that something in you has inspired them to want your guidance in one or more aspects of life.

After making that decision you and your mentee create a relationship that is built intentionally to help you navigate through those places that you feel they have obtained some sort of mastery. That is not to say that your mentor is all-knowing, but they have a great wealth of knowledge on the topic and some does and do nots from their own experiences, so at least your mistakes, if any can be different from the ones that they have made. You establish a relationship built on trust and reliability believing that this person wants to be by your side to help you to enhance the qualities that you already have even if you did not know that you had them.

This blog serves as a part of the Office of Student Leadership Development’s celebration of National Mentoring Month in our “Mentoring Matters” campaign.

Mentoring Matters: An Ode to AP English

About the Writer: Anee Nguyen is a sophomore in the St Andrews and William & Mary Joint Degree Program. Currently in Scotland, Anee studies English with a minor in history. In her free time, Anee likes to use the metro system, write bad poetry, and watch what Audrey Hepburn movies are still left on Netflix.’

Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve wanted to go into education since I was 12. Between the amount of times I’ve mentioned teaching or English it’s not too hard to see how dead set I have been on doing this one profession for the rest of my forever. And it started with a person.

Not me, funnily enough, but with a teacher, which isn’t surprising. I have had teachers and professors my whole life, and my inspiration to become one stems from each and every one of their passions and dedications, but there was a particular woman who taught me so much about education and English and about being a good productive human of this earth.

Ms. Blankenship showed me that unconventional thinking is the best kind. She reminded all her students, and drove home in me that everyone thinks differently, and that is the most valuable thing you can learn from one another. She made me feel empowered and I worked hard to make her proud because she is one of the most brilliant minds I think I’ll ever know. She taught me that everyone is human, and humanity is what moves us to make changes in the world, to find love and to create happiness. Blankenship gave me so much self-confidence by telling me the truth, the hard and real way. She shared so much with me that I can only hope to share in one of my students when I become a teacher.

As a mentor, Ms. Blankenship was the mother bird to my attempts to fly. She consistently pushed me out of the tree until she knew she could trust me to jump off myself, to take risks and chances knowing that she would be there to catch me when I inevitably bumped into a few branches on the way down. I ran to her to tell her about my college acceptance, and then again to ask for her advice on joining the St Andrews program. I ran to her when I came home from college and made her argue with me on all my new ideas on papers I had written. I ran to her when my brother fell off his bike and had a huge gash on his face. I ran to her because I knew she would push me to find my own answers, and not give them to me. Her way of teaching me to be my own person was something I only wish I could emulate later on. I think the greatest compliment she ever gave me was that she and I think in the same way, using charts and visuals to create ideas. Ms. Blankenship helped to uncover who I am now and gave me a good visual for the woman I want to be in the future. Thank you, Ms. Blankenship. You rock.

This blog serves as a part of the Office of Student Leadership Development’s celebration of National Mentoring Month in our “Mentoring Matters” campaign.