by Maritza Torres

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” 

This past weekend I spent some much needed quality time with my mentor. This woman means the world to me and I truly look up to her. She truly is my big sister. A few months ago I wrote a piece in the NASPA Latino Knowledge Community Newsletter for their “This I Believe” section. For this week’s blog post I would like to share a bit of that piece because it still encompasses the impact mentorship has had on my life.

I’m happy to say that my life has changed for the better because of my mentors. I have learned from each of these individuals and truly value their advice and support. However, there is one mentor in particular that has truly played a pivotal rule in my professional and personal life. I remember first meeting her in undergrad during a retreat and just being in awe. During that time I was considering a career in student affairs, so I was excited to not only meet another woman in the field but a Latina! As an undergrad, I didn’t have many opportunities finding role models of Latina descent. Being the shy undergrad that I was, I never engaged her in a conversation. Once the retreat was over, I thought I would not have a chance to see her again. However, I did enjoy the sessions she facilitated and I was grateful to have had the opportunity to meet a Latina student affairs professional! A year later she came to visit our campus again as a consultant. I engaged in a short conversation with her about how I was accepted into a student affairs graduate program and would be starting in the Fall. I was surprised that she actually gave me her cell phone number and told me to keep in touch. However, those shy tendencies were still in me and I never took her up on that opportunity.

However, as fate would have it we crossed paths again! A year later we reconnected during a conference while I was a graduate student. During the conference I was honored to have seen her become elected as the first Latina president of a national association and have a scholarship named in her honor. Hearing about her amazing accomplishments inspired me to reach out to her and ask her to mentor me. I was ecstatic when she said yes and was looking forward to learning more from this phenomenal woman. We mostly stayed in touch over the phone and e-mail since we lived in separate states. We scheduled phone calls and had exchanged e-mails which gave me the opportunity to learn more about her and her career path. During national conferences we made efforts to meet up and have lunch together. When I started job searching I found myself reaching out to her more for advice, resume and cover letter critiques, and support. There have been points in our relationship where we haven’t spoken to each other for weeks and months at a time. However, I knew that I can pick up the phone or e-mail her at any time we will pick up right where we left off. One of the lessons that I have learned about maintaining a mentor/mentee relationship is learning about one another’s mentor/mentee “style”. Since the beginning my mentor told me that there will be times where I would need to remind her a few times to respond to an e-mail or phone call. I’m the type of person that constantly likes to keep in touch so I would make sure to check in periodically. As our mentor/mentee relationship progressed we found out that we had a lot in common. Our conversations began to shift from career planning to conversations about family, friends, and even something as silly as our common eating habits! 

Today, I not only consider this woman my mentor but my friend. Looking back, I have cherished the lessons she taught me and her never-ending love and support. She taught me to never underestimate myself and that I was capable of achieving my dreams. She taught me to never give up even during the roughest of times and to always stay motivated. She stuck with me through thick and thin and has always made herself available as possible when I needed her. She assured me that she will always have my back and that she will always be proud of my accomplishments. She taught me my value not only as a professional but as an individual. She has provided me with words of wisdom that have changed my outlook on my life and the world around me. She truly believes in me. I seriously do not know how I would have made it through graduate school and now as new professional without her by my side. I’m honored and humbled to be able to learn from her and I truly consider her my mentor, friend, and hero.

Student Affairs - the First Years

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