Creating a Culture of Mentoring on Campus

Allison McWilliams (’95) is the Director of the Mentoring Resource Center on campus. She spoke to the Parents’ Council during their fall meeting on October 1st about mentoring activities at Wake Forest. The Parent Programs office asked her if she’d share her thoughts on mentoring with all parents via the Parents’ Page, and she agreed. Her remarks are below.

“As of June 2010, the University has established the Mentoring Resource Center as part of the Office of Personal and Career Development. The Mentoring Resource Center has one goal: to make mentoring a visible, core experience and value of the Wake Forest community, and in so doing, to become the nationally-recognized leader in higher education mentoring programs and practice.

How are we doing this? We are working to develop a mentoring culture across the Wake Forest campus. We seek to build a community where these sorts of intentional, purposeful, conversations of care become the norm for how we interact with one another. This is a goal we know that we can achieve because Wake Forest has such a strong tradition of informal mentoring to build upon. We aim to build upon that tradition – not to replace it – with resources and support to make mentoring a visible, core experience for all Wake Forest students.

We encourage every Wake Forest student to build his or her mentoring network. Included in that network should be peers, faculty and staff, trusted adults outside of Wake Forest such as teachers and coaches from home, and even parents. Encourage your student to approach these key influencers and to ask them, “will you mentor me?”

As we seek to develop mentoring resources for your students while they are on campus, you can augment that experience by mentoring your students during your interactions with them.  How can parents mentor their own students? Mentoring is about having personal, intentional conversations with your student about his or her growth and development. Effective mentors guide their mentees by asking thought-provoking questions, providing objective feedback and advice, and practicing active listening in order to facilitate the mentee’s ability to reflect upon the decisions he or she is making and to take active responsibility for his or her own development. In your mentoring conversations with your student, focus on four key questions:

1.     Where are you now? Help your student to frame his or her current situation, and to reflect upon the issue, problem, or decision he or she faces. 

2.     Where do you want to be? Guide your student as he or she develops a goal statement to pursue in order to address the issue, problem or decision.

3.     How are you going to get there? Provide objective feedback and advice as your student develops a concrete action plan to make progress towards achieving the goal.

4.     What happened and what did you learn? Ask thought-provoking questions and practice active listening as your student reflects on the progress he or she has made, the lessons learned, and potential next steps.

Mentoring is a powerful tool for you to get to know your student better, and to help guide him or her in the transition from adolescence to adulthood. And, unlike others in your student’s mentoring network, your mentoring relationship has the unique opportunity to last a lifetime. For additional mentoring resources, tips, tools, and strategies, visit the Mentoring Resource Center website.”

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