January was National Mentoring Month. We’re coming a bit late to that party but it is a good time to remind Wake Forest families that one of the great benefits to attending a school of this size and scope is that your students will have the opportunity to connect with a mentor here, if they will take advantage of it.
Sometimes a mentor comes in the form of an academic adviser, or a favorite faculty member, campus minister, or other staff member a student sees frequently. Other times it may be a trusted upperclassman friend, an RA, you get the idea. The important part is that there are a lot of people here who are willing to be another set of ears for your students.
Our students – like most college students – sometimes wrestle with big questions: what should I major in? what kind of job do I want? how do I want to live my life? what’s important to me? They are thinking these thoughts and discovering and wondering. Often they will talk to their families about these questions, but sometimes they want a safe place to voice their questions and concerns and hopes and dreams. Part of the joy (and the responsibility) of working with college students is to be accessible to them when they want a kind ear. And I can vouch for so many of my colleagues who delight in helping students by listening, and encouraging, and questioning, and even challenging them sometimes.
Not every student will want a mentor, of course. There is no requirement to have one, and much of the mentoring that is done on campus is organic and develops naturally (as opposed to signing up for a specific mentor program). It may be interesting for you to ask your student who he or she goes to if he/she has an issue or a problem. If your student has a trusted person here, fantastic. If not, it may be a great time to talk about the role a mentor has played in your own life and encourage your student to seek out a mentor here.
Combining the idea of mentoring and the Valentine’s Day theme of things we love about Wake Forest, here is today’s entry:
When a student comes to you and says “you are the only person I feel like I can talk to about this.” What an honor and a privilege it is to be a mentor to a student.