January is National Mentoring Month and in celebration of that, we will feature several guest blogs from professionals regarding the importance of mentoring.
What is the value of mentoring?
Mentorship and mentoring are invaluable. When students have mentors, it opens the window of exposure and opportunities for success. Mentoring adds an element of holistic development to a student’s life. During many of my mentoring sessions over the years, I have spent time discussing home life, mental health, college and career aspirations, and a host of other things. Mentoring has the ability to directly change the trajectory of the student’s life and change the community of peers around them.
Why is mentoring particularly critical to underserved populations?
Mentorship is critically important to underserved populations because it builds equity in access. Some students and families in underserved populations would not know the opportunities that are available to them in the absence of a mentor-mentee relationship.
What’s the most important thing mentors need to know when working with underserved populations?
The most important thing a mentor needs to know is that mentorship is multi-faceted. Mentors provide holistic support in an effort to encourage and promote student success in college and beyond.
What’s the best way for someone to find a mentor that best meets their needs and aligns with their background and experiences?
The amazing thing about seeking mentoring is that there are so many ways to connect. One of the best ways for someone to find a mentor who best aligns with their needs is by seeking out a specific organization that provides the services. There are many college access programs that include a mentorship component. Students should start with speaking to trusted teachers or guidance counselors who can lead them in the right direction.
Did you have a mentor? If yes, what value did you find from it? What did it mean to you?
I did not have a true mentor until after I graduated with my undergraduate degree. In retrospect, I wish that I did have a mentor much sooner. That has become my mission in the work that I do, to support youth in advocacy and exposure as I needed when I was in high school. My first mentor, Dr. Booker, was my director at a school that I worked in and she truly helped me to develop professionally and academically. I earned my masters in higher education because of her guidance. Again, what she provided me with as a young adult was invaluable and I truly aspire to support youth with the same compassion that she exemplified when supporting me.
What role can a mentor play during the college application process?
A mentor can play a huge role in the college application process. Through my experience hosting Louisiana Application and Access Month, which are college application completion events, I can attest to the nervousness that comes with students completing a college application for the first time. I believe that a mentor can dispel the myths of applying to college and assist in elevating undue stress that our student sometimes place on themselves when applying.
Brittani Williams is a financial aid and career development specialist for the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA) in the Field Outreach Division. She also serves as state campaign coordinator of the Louisiana Application and Access Month. She earned her Master of Arts Degree in Education, specializing in Higher Education Administration at Louisiana State University. She has worked as a college mentor for the Baton Rouge Youth Coalition and female mentor for LOSFA’s, Aspire to Inspire Intensive Mentoring Program. Check out her previous blog here.