2014: The Year of the Cheer


By Jessica Rogers, {grow} Contributing Columnist

In the late 80’s my father began managing a manufacturing plant in Texas. I worked for him part time and then full time during the 90’s. I can honestly say I can properly stack a pallet, un-jam a bottle sleever, and drive a forklift! I also learned the value of hard work, teamwork, and leadership.

I was out to brunch with my parents when a grown man in a nice suit approached my family and gave my dad the biggest, most heart-felt bear hug. He was a young man my father had mentored in his company and over the years he had watch him mature and flourish. My Dad seemed to be as proud of his protégé as he is of my brother and I.

The young man my father worked with graduated with a Masters about six years ago, and is now working in Colorado. He has learned from my dad’s example and is already paying it forward in his local community by bringing an award-winning Kids’ Lab program to two schools during National Chemistry Week, and is also donating unused warehouse space to the cause.

When he walked away, my Dad began to tell me how in his early career he had a great mentor at Pfizer, and it inspired my father to pay that forward, too. My father taught me the value of mentoring without ever saying it. He taught by example.

I really feel strongly about helping others succeed. Now, that I work in academia, my students are my mentees. Each term I have almost 200 fresh faces to size up, and assure — if you need guidance I am here.

There is such a fear of the unknown in the university setting for students, and there shouldn’t be. There should be a feeling of excitement for exploration. There is a divide between faculty and students, and there shouldn’t be. The faculty are there not only to teach, but to guide.

In a post last month, I addressed my student’s lack of ambition when it comes to personal branding and networking via social media. The post was not directed solely on Millennials or Gen Y. I have non -traditional students as well older students this applies to. Perhaps it is not laziness with all students, but the fear of the unknown that plays a part in this.  Universities and faculty need to step in and become mentors as well as teachers.

2014: The year of the Cheer

There is no greater sense of accomplishment than a heartfelt email from a student thanking you for believing in them, for being the one constant in their life while they went through a divorce, job loss, or illness while they were in school.

I have learned from my father’s example and I have witnessed the rippling power of mentoring first-hand. If you have not experienced this yourself, I would like to challenge you to take a step into this world yourself. You never know how your life experiences, education, and counsel can help a young person and change a life.

Did you have a wonderful Mentor during your career? Is this your year to pay it forward too? Is this your Year of the Cheer?

Illustration courtesy Flickr CC and Christian Norton

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