Mentoring: A Connection With Purpose

By Alicia Monroe posted 01-29-2019 07:51


On the coldest day of Winter 2019, I listened to a segment of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, Sen. Kamala Harris announced her run for president, marked day 31 of the government shutdown; and finished rereading a few sections of Becoming by Michelle Obama.

On a day of service  (Martin Luther King Jr. Day), where we celebrate and pay homage to the martyr spirit and life of a phenomenal American civil rights leader and social justice icon, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I reflect on a personal value that I honor and uphold, the social responsibility of being my brother’s/sister’s keeper. Deeply rooted in my spiritual beliefs, the inspiration, encouragement, motivation, and service that I provide others is intrinsic to my purpose. 

As the NACE 2018 Mentor of the Year, it’s apropos for me to write this blog today. As we reflect on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., how many of you have been moved by his selflessness, courage, resilience, and unyielding desire for truth, justice, and compassion? In what ways do your values, beliefs, and actions reflect the attributes manifested in Dr. King’s conquering faith and philosophy? No, I’m not going to go too far left or right. I’m just standing in my truth. As I reflect on whose shoulders I stand, I ask that you join me in considering how you pay it forward and invest in others. 

In a study from the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies boast formal and informal mentorship opportunities. In addition, 75 percent of executives say mentoring has been of vital importance to their career development. Further, Mentoring Matters: Developing Talent With Formal Mentoring Programs—the latest research report by the Association for Talent Development (formerly ASTD)— reveals that whether the relationship is formal or informal, mentors can have a lasting effect on mentees; their guidance can help them shape their careers. 

As the workplace is now a multi-generational mix of norms, values, beliefs, and attitudes it is of utmost importance that higher education professionals prioritize mentorship. Meeting students where they are, connecting with them on their journey, and inspiring the creation of their story and personal success gives meaning and depth to the work that we are engaged in. The mentoring revolution must reflect the shifting demographic in the workplace. As students begin to trust the relationships that are built with mentors, the communication sparks transformation, and reciprocal learning between mentor and mentee emerges. 

Cultivating mentoring relationships requires us to hold ourselves accountable to lead with integrity and by example. My mother, who was also an educator, oftentimes said to me as I embarked on my career, “Remember, more is caught than taught.” We represent the values that we want others to possess. As I stand on her shoulders as well as on those of my mentors and other heroes and heroines, I ask that you reflect on your personal mentoring relationships. I guarantee those that are the most memorable engage heart, understanding, empathy, and compassion. As we look to inspire and motivate students and employees, open up new avenues of exchange that will usher in meaningful relationships. A personal commitment to excellence and willingness to connect with others through challenges, struggles, and disappointment directly links to one’s self-concept and sense of belonging.

You can get information on the NACE Mentor Program on NACEWeb.