As a current graduate student in the Student Affairs master’s program, it has always been a great opportunity and pleasure for me to attend networking events where I am able to learn more about others’ professional experience and get a better understanding of their perspectives as I personally transition into a Student Affairs professional. With this in mind, I have come to realize that the mentor/mentee relationship plays a significant and largely influential role in molding an individual’s professional development. By forming that strong bond and allowing individuals to share experiences and wisdom, a strong path is forged that allows individuals to widen their knowledge and assists them in better formulating ways to perfect their professional careers. As I reflect on my personal experiences with mentors and mentees, I know that I have taken at least one valuable piece of wisdom with me from each and every one of my mentors over the last several years, and I hope that my mentees have also gotten something valuable from the experiences I have shared with them.
Recently, I attended a Courses of Action dinner that really resonated with me and reinforced my belief of the importance of mentor/mentee relationships. The dinner consisted of various UCLA affiliates: faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students. Facilitated by Professor Tracy Johnson, this event was an opportunity to not only meet and network with various UCLA affiliates, but to also learn from their experiences and gain their perspective and wisdom. She expressed her experiences with her own previous mentor, and how the relationship really cultivated her professional pathway. One powerful comment that really resonated with me is that some students feel intimidated by faculty, which prevents the formation of relationships. This issue led to the brainstorming of proactive ways that we, as students, could move away from that fear and intimidation. As a current student working in Residential Life, I often hear our Director say “meet the students where they’re at.” This piece of advice is very significant in taking that first step in cultivating a strong relationship, and if a bond were indeed to be formed, it could open the door to a threshold of knowledge, wisdom, and a wonderful experience, for both the mentor and mentee.
Thank you to the Every/One staff and Professor Tracy Johnson for hosting such a wonderful event!