The mentor in you

Friday, Jan. 19, 2024

Dedicated students, distinguished colleagues and dear friends,

Happy Friday!

I have no recollection of a time in my career when I did not have mentors. Often more than one, depending on what was in play at the time. To this day, after any of my mentor-protegee sessions, I walk away thinking, “How could I not see the dimension that an informed ‘outsider’ could see so clearly?” To be clear, my mentors rarely tell me how to think or what to do; rather, they almost always point to elements to consider, things to think about. They highlight a wider perspective rather than focusing on here and now. You see, when you are so deep “in the soup,” it is hard to see the interplay of disparate pieces of information to create a coherent image of the situation at hand. Outsiders, however, have an agonistic perspective of your situation and therefore offer an unbiased, invaluable perspective.

Our teachers and coaches have encouraged us to do our best, to never give up. While teachers and coaches speak to us, mentors, speak with us, challenge us to think differently, help us pivot in order to gain clarity, think of a better solution, envision a different future and, perhaps more importantly, guide us to get there. 

As President Biden issued the proclamation on National Mentoring Month, recognizing millions of mentors across the country, I recall with fond memories many of my savvy, “senior” mentors who had great influence on my way of thinking. They have helped me calm the crisis, address the issues at hand and achieve many of my objectives. Needless to say, I am forever grateful for their wise insights. You might be surprised to learn, however, that during my academic administration career, I have often had student mentors. All along, my students have helped me see what they see, have alerted me to teaching methods that work best, underlined the importance of campus diversity, spoke about more effective forms of advising and counseling, and how best to communicate with them. I have benefited hugely from my reverse mentoring sessions with our students, and I encourage our faculty and staff to engage in reverse mentorship, if the opportunity arises.

Of course, I have also served as mentor to many and, in the process, sensed the altruistic glow of helping others and felt the high emotional ride when the light comes on. Regardless of our station in life, we can benefit from a mentor and, at the same time, become a mentor to others. After all, mentorship is not about deep domain knowledge or seniority of rank order. Rather, it is about listening, caring and connecting. It’s about believing in the other even when they don’t believe in themselves, and it’s about their transition from hesitating to believing and then to knowing that they can.

I have always wondered about the secret sauce of the most successful among us and have consistently noticed that mentors, carefully selected, can be the most valuable asset to help ensure that all other ingredients of success – setting goals, working hard, establishing connections, and the all-important feedback loop – are properly coordinated. So, to our students, faculty and staff alike, and anyone who is seeking success in their professional journey, I simply say, why not learn from the experiences of others and, in the process, offer yours? Here at S&T, our own Miner Master Mentors program provides confidential mentoring that can result in improved academic, social and career enhancement. And to the mentor in you, I say, your generous act of guiding others enhances your own management and leadership skills, expands your professional network, and provides an empowering opportunity to give back to those who need it most.



Share your thoughts!

Check out the latest news from S&T:

Mohammad Dehghani, PhD
Chancellor | 573-341-4116

206 Parker Hall, 300 West 13th Street, Rolla, MO 65409-0910