One of the biggest things I have learned the past couple of years is the value of mentorships. Hope College has thankfully provided me with some really awesome opportunities to seek the wisdom of others. Coming into college and moving away from home, it does not take long to notice the lack of older influence in your life. Yes, it is easy to call home every so often, but I found that being able to have a face to face conversation with someone who cares about your well being and has expertise in the subject (i.e. one’s major) is irreplaceable.
It Takes Time
A word of encouragement I want to start with is that building a relationship that turns into mentorship takes time and patience. A lot of the mentors I have now did not become my mentors until the second semester of my sophomore year and/or into my junior year. A lot of mentorships and relationships with professors develop once you get deeper into your major and more involved in organizations on campus. However, there is a lot to be said for seeking things out and not waiting for them to come to you.
For any student that really wants a mentor at Hope College, all you have to do is ask. My freshman year, I really wanted guidance while I was working my way through the book of Romans. I had a meeting with Nancy (a Chaplin from Campus Ministries) and expressed the desire for a mentor. From there, Nancy connected me with one of her close friends that lived in Holland, who I would meet with at a nearby coffee shop. The two of us would meet every week or two and I could ask her questions about faith or about passages in scripture I was working through.
At Hope, one can gain either personal or professional mentorships. As a part of my Ministry Minor, receiving a spiritual mentor was required. I became close with the Chair of the Department who connected me to his wife Laurel as a mentor. Laurel and I began meeting two years ago and we still meet up to this day. She has played a wonderful role in my life helping me navigate situations at school, home, and in relationships.
Also that year, I received Dr. Stacey Jackson (known to many as Stace) as my advisor for my Business major. Stacey has played a major role in my career development and academic pursuits in college. I have gotten the opportunity to know Stacey well through a program in the department called Baker Scholars. Baker Scholars is a leadership development program that has given me the opportunity to take trips with the department, network with Hope College Alumni and participate in workshops (topics including public speaking, design thinking and conflict management). I also have had Stace for two classes, so he knows how I handle situations in an academic setting. As an advisor/mentor, he has helped me discern my career post graduation as well as the steps I need to take to get there. He also can tell when I sometimes need a word of encouragement or some grace on getting an assignment in.
Because of Hope’s size, professors and other faculty love to play a role in students’ lives. I have gotten to know professors that I have not even had for class. They have been so happy to help whether I was seeking their professional opinion regarding their area of study or if I was just interested in hearing about their life and career path. I am so thankful for the willingness of others to speak into my life and help me discern situations in the present as well as my goals for the future.