When the mentee becomes the mentor

On Monday, I had the opportunity to speak on a panel at my alma mater, Virginia Union University, to science students. Sitting on the panel and subsequently talking to some students afterwards really struck a chord: I am officially a mentor.

I realize that I have definitely mentored before. In fact, I have one persistent mentee that adopted me years ago when I started to attend her church…lol. But I guess it didn’t really hit me until Monday.  Sitting on the stage and looking out into the audience at the students made me feel happy and at the same time, concerned. I felt some of the students really needed a boost of confidence–it’s almost like they stopped believing in themselves.

However, many of them are persistent in spite of the odds. I had a convo after the panel with a young lady that shared with me many of her personal struggles. She also told me how some faculty and family members were telling her she needs to give up her dreams. I was heartbroken. I gave her my contact information and highly encouraged her to reach out to me. I told her that I would be her encourager and help her.

God has blessed me with mentors throughout my career. Through high school, college, and graduate school, I have always had someone to be my ear.  When I was younger, I lamented over the fact that I lost my father. But looking back now, I realized that God has blessed me with two surrogate dads. I know the power that a positive word can have and an encouraging speech can have. Now that God has entrusted me to be a mentor for those coming up after me, I consistently strive to do those things for them. I definitely am not perfect and I know I can get caught up in my life at times, but I hope my consistent mentee could say I have been a good mentor to her. I want those coming up after me to succeed. Just like I want that young lady I spoke to on Monday to reach her dreams.

My epiphany on Monday was that you never know in your daily walk who needs encouragement. People look like they have their stuff together, but they really don’t. Sometimes a smile, an ear, or a positive word can be EVERYTHING to one person. I strive and pray to God that I can be more sensitive to people’s needs. Let me radiate the love that God has freely given me. Let me be a true mentor.

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