Feb. 19, 2020
Not that long ago I overheard a group of our student interns talking about whether they were grown up enough to do different things. One said she wondered when she would feel enough like an adult to be totally comfortable. At this point, this supposed “adult” stepped in.
I explained that I hadn’t meant to eavesdrop, but since they sit right outside my office, I couldn’t help but hear their discussion. I then let them in on what I assume is a reality for everyone — there is no magical moment where you all of a sudden feel like an adult. I told them that in my case, I am basically the same person I was at 18 years old, just with more experiences and responsibilities.
All those things like mortgages, retirement accounts, child-rearing? I pretty much learned as I went on a “need-to-know” basis. But my basic self doesn’t feel any different than I did all those years ago. I assured them they’ll be fine and to not worry so much. Whatever path they choose would be the right one even if they still felt unsure. I think they all audibly breathed a sigh of relief.
Maybe they think I’m the crazy old lady, but I try to impose some of my life’s lessons on them when I can. I think my job here isn’t just to teach them about serial commas and run-on sentences but to be a mentor of sorts. Anyone can step up and be a mentor. It doesn’t have to be a formal thing (though I’ve done that too) but simply being a participant in other’s lives. It doesn’t take much and you never know when it might really make a difference.
Kayla Connor, a doctoral candidate studying microbiology and molecular genetics says she wouldn’t be who she is today without the mentoring she received from her high school chemistry teacher. Growing up in a small town, there wasn’t a lot of encouragement toward higher education. Read the MSUTODAY FEATURE: Shaping the future, to hear in her own words how much of an impact Ms. Hardin had on her life.
Ellie Small, a second-year student in the College of Osteopathic Medicine, found inspiration from her teacher, Richard Bryce, an assistant professor and physician. She calls him, “selfless, humble and altruistic,” qualities she now exudes as president of Detroit Street Care, which provides health services to the homeless population in the city. Read her STUDENT VIEW: Honoring a teacher and mentor, to learn more about Bryce and how he’s translated his values in teaching future physicians.
Richard Saouma knows that in business, peers can challenge and mentor each other, resulting in overall better performance. Saouma, associate dean in the Broad College of Business, is an expert in management and explores how peer-to-peer relationships can improve employee relationships. Check out the video of his short talk on the subject from the BroadX event in the FACULTY VOICE: The power of lunch,
Mentors aren’t always found in school or work. Sometimes, the best mentor can be found at home. For Maddy Gun, her grandfather, who survived the Holocaust by hiding in the woods for more than two years with his brother, continues to be her inspiration. His challenge to not be a bystander moved her to an incredible act after being the victim of property theft and destruction involving her mezuzah. Rather than press criminal charges, she offered to take the person responsible to the Holocaust Memorial Center to educate, rather than punish. Read her STUDENT VIEW: Education as restorative justice, to learn more about this amazing young woman.
People can find inspiration anywhere. Pay attention to those around you and step up when you have something to offer. Don’t stand back and wait for someone else — be the person who strides forward and asks, “How can I help?” Be the “crazy, old lady” in the office who takes notice of others and goes beyond what is simply required. Make your life experiences count by sharing them with those who can learn from them. Help each other. Care for one another. Step up. #SpartansWill.
Photo by Derrick L. Turner