The Beauty of Mentors
Published: Sunday, September 23, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
Freshman year, I scurried into the Chocolate Bar (yes, freshmen, that was once a real place) super early for a meeting. I sat by the window with my latte, anxiously awaiting the arrival of my mentor. She was a current Heights editor, and was assigned to a random freshman, me, to take under her wing for the first semester, and she really did. I was nervous, confused, afraid, and hoping to make some new friends. I had signed up for the FLIP program after stopping by The Heights’ table at the Student Involvement Fair, as many new freshmen did this year. Quickly, my mentor soothed my every fear, and sold me on the organization.
Looking back, I see that it was less about what she said, than how she said it that sold me on
The Heights (Okay, maybe the mention of fun parties and new friends didn’t hurt her case). She was passionate about the organization, self-assured, confident, and happy in her allotted place at Boston College. That was what attracted me, that feeling of fitting in, and thriving. It was this first mentoring relationship that really helped me through my freshman year. Sometimes, just grabbing coffee with my senior "friend" and her friends made BC feel more like home.
That is the power of finding a mentor, no matter who they may be. The ability to take BC, which as a freshman can feel huge and scary, and shrink it down, is so important to enjoying your time here. Suddenly, campus isn’t so big and confusing, the faces you pass in the Quad aren’t all brand new, your professors know your name from semester to semester, and at the end of a long day, you can retreat to a dorm or apartment that starts to feel like your own home.
This is what inspired me to sign up to be a mentor myself for
The Heights this year and last. Now, I don’t think I screwed up my first mentoring role too badly. My own little FLIP is now a copy editor, and is more together and driven than I am for sure. I have yet to meet my FLIP this year, but I am sure that she will be just as wonderful. Before long, my FLIP didn’t really need me. This was such a bittersweet moment for me, but so inevitable. It is so great to see your mentee succeed, but so sad to see them go.
Last year I saw a flyer for a Big Sister & Little Sister program at BC, and ended up applying to help freshman women adjust to college life. During the interview process, I learned that women at BC are, overall, more qualified to be here than their male counterparts—although, as the years progress, BC men become more confident in their abilities, while BC women’s confidence wanes. After this study was done, the group emerged. I wanted to help some freshman girl through a difficult time, I thought. So once again, I signed up, and made it through the interview process. But I worried—had they done enough investigating, and were they sure I was capable of doing this?
I don’t know if it’s my own confidence waning as statistics prove it will (here’s to hoping it doesn’t!), but I never really felt qualified to guide anyone, especially as a sophomore last year. What did I really know about BC? Or being a good role model, for that matter? This all lead me to some serious self-reflection. At the beginning of each relationship, I thought about the kind of BC woman I wanted to present myself as. I surely don’t have all of the answers. And really, let’s get serious, it’s hard to self reflect when the week hardly leaves time for eating and sleeping (especially with suite-style living making me want to just blow off my homework and watch
Crazy, Stupid, Love on a Tuesday night … whoops).
But maybe it’s just forming the relationship that is most important. Making that time for a weekly cup of coffee with someone from your high school, or someone matched with you through an actual organization. As a freshman, I was so lucky to have a wonderful mentor, and I think that was so important to my year. Even if I am only a familiar face to a new member of BC, maybe that’s enough. I can’t solve all my own problems, so I surely can’t solve hers, but maybe, just maybe, I can help someone make the most of these four magical years.