I’ve just returned from a retreat with the Student Activities Center staff, and am so energized about making the work that we do better, collaborating closely with my fellow staff members, forming good relationships with all of the grad students in our office, but at the same time honoring a commitment that I made to a USF student when I left.
I remember the first time I met Leah. She was one of a few students that we have that wait at our Winter Wonderland event for long periods of time (read: 6pm for an event that started at 9pm). I was excited to see that there were events that could draw such passionate followings. I was also curious to see where else such commitment could
Sure enough, Leah came on our staff the following year as our Director for Special Events, which included the same event I had seen her so excited for the year before. Although I never directly advised Leah, it was great to be able to connect with her periodically, learn more about her as a student and RA, and to see her grow as a leader in the office. A few weeks before I graduated, she came to be and asked me to be a mentor for her. I was blown away by the request, and am so excited to help her through her senior year from afar.
However, I’m nervous about cultivating that relationship with her. I’m nervous because I know I’ll be diligent in keeping up with her, being a resource for her, and making time to catch up with her. But I also know she has another mentor on campus at USF, someone with a very different style from me (a style I’ve actively chosen not to model my own career after), also advising her. It makes me apprehensive because I’m not sure what impact my advice will have from afar, or how my advice will be absorbed in comparison to that of the other mentor. One of the stages of learning how to deal with my anxiety is getting more comfortable with ceding control. And I’m taking this opportunity to challenge myself not to try and assert myself overly. I know the best I can do is state my case, offer my help and support, and leave it to Leah to interpret and pull from my words.
For those of you with more experience being a mentor, how have you cultivated that relationship from afar? What advice do you have about mentoring a student? And do we ever try to filter the information that students get? Or should we let them make those decisions on their own?