“I didn’t have mentors that looked like me... sometimes we get caught up in thinking our mentors always have to look like us, but all I needed was one that BELIEVED in me.” - Dr. T
Applying to over 23 schools my senior year in high school, I had no idea what university I wanted to attend. I did know I wanted to go to school out of state to see what life was like outside of Ohio. However, my plans would soon change. April 2015, I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Cynthia Turner whose profound accomplishments and inspiring career journey inspired me to follow in her footsteps. I wrote an essay for the 2015 Accounting Careers Awareness Scholarship Program about how her trial and tribulations encouraged me to overcome any obstacles I may face and truly go after what I wanted.
Two years later I was applying to universities and thought back to Dr. Turner’s inspirational background. The relationship I built with her through her selfless, and genuine kindness during my one week at the Fisher College of Business ACAP-Ohio Program, was a relationship I knew cannot be replicated. She ultimately influenced me to attend The Ohio State University and to study accounting, where I knew there was a chance I could have her as my professor.
Weeks before moving into my residence hall, I received an email from Dr. T stating I had won a $2500 scholarship I did not even apply for. I was shocked, confused, and thought it was a hoax. Midway through reading the “Congrats” letter I found that Dr. T was behind it all. She was so passionate about bridging the gap of underrepresented minorities in the Accounting & Management Information Systems fields that she built an initiative that supports minorities in Accounting and MIS called Project THRIVE. Project THRIVE consists primarily of students who previously participated in the Accounting Career Awareness Program (ACAP-Ohio). Currently sponsored by PWC, EY, KPMG, and most recently BDO, Project Thrive members not only are awarded a $2500 scholarship/year, but also have access to the Project Thrive library, a resource which purchases business related textbooks for members. Just last night, Dr. T shared how the latest sponsorship has paved the way for graduating seniors to get a custom/tailored professional business suit! SAY WHAT?? Most importantly, members have exclusive access to Dr. T as a notable mentor!
I thank Dr. Turner for being thAt type of mentor every student dreams of, for my peers and I! It was such an honor nominating her and watching her receive the 2018 Black Girl Magic Living Legend Award. She's more than deserving and appreciated for all she does!! Gifting her with a custom ByOgochukwu kente t-shirt made with love, during the 2018 Project THRIVE Spring Reception (as pictured above), was a small token of my appreciation. I will keep working hard and making her proud!
Identify someone who inspires you. Once you do, work your way towards getting to know them past the surface level. When someone asks you, "How are you?" don't just respond with the default of "fine, how are you?" sometimes try to get to know each other a little more by sharing something exciting, or a challenge that you need advice to get through, or a new project you're working on...etc. Ask the person how they are in a genuine way, "how are you?" vs. "Hey, what's new!" are very different. Use your judgement to determine which one is most appropriate in a given situation.
Stay in contact with that person: Keep them periodically updated on academic and professional achievements and, when appropriate, maybe personal achievements too. Dr. T reminded me constantly that she was there for me. She also encouraged me to NOT only come to her with good news. She assured me good or bad news, she was there to help! This was a huge wakeup call for me. Had I gone to her when I was struggling in my classes, maybe she could've helped.
Mentees should do 70-75% of the work. As your relationship builds with a potential mentor be sure to give well-rounded updates. Be self-aware enough to give your mentor something to work with. The more they know, the better you can help them help you.
Social networking is POWERFUL and perhaps more personal. Move outside of email communication when possible. A mentor can become more personalized when your communication style no longer is limited to "professional emails."Whether online or in-person, engaging in a social setting vs. a professional setting can largely influence the dynamic of a mentee/mentor relationship. Peep this breakdown on how online social networking differs from online professional networking, and the importance of a good balance.
Find your own BOMB mentor! If you haven’t found that one special “go to” person yet, I strongly advise you do so ASAP. There’s nothing like having someone outside of family supporting you LIKE family!
Feel free to watch a clip of Dr. T's moving words (on desktop) as she accepts her 2018 Black Girl Magic Living Legend Award! #BlackGirlMagic