"You Can't Be What You Can't See" - What Mentoring Means to Me
Recently, I was asked to serve on a panel in discussing leadership with an ambassador, a lawyer, and several educators and social justice leaders to define and explore what leadership meant to us. This exchange and dialogue reminded me of the life choices that I have made to get to where I am today. I have countless stories about how my mentors successfully shaped my experiences. I realized that mentoring was always at the cornerstone of my experiences. I had some great role models in high school and college did what they did in ways that were engaging and powerful and pushed me to "dream big" as a young impressionable African American man in my formative years.
I remember in my undergraduate years at Morehouse College in Atlanta, I was contemplating if I should attend a Saturday mentoring program because I wanted to go to the Lenox Mall with my friends. I was having this discussion in the cafeteria where the lunch attendant overheard my conversation. She reminded us as college students that those young boys from the housing projects nearby were counting on us to be there - and we were their role models. She stated "You Can't Be What You Can't See". She reminded me and my friends that it was important for us to be present and to be role models to the next generation of young people and that their lives were counting on it. I took that lesson to heart and always took my role as a mentor very seriously to show up and always be present.
At my nonprofit and community organization Greatest MINDS, we want you to have those same experiences while you are attending college. You should, as undergraduate students, be cognizant of your need for mentorship as you pursue graduate degrees in medical school, law, or in the natural and social sciences. Mentors and role models are important. But we also want you to realize what a role you can play to high school and middle school students in the county, city, or town you reside in. They also need to see you in action.
I was exposed to non-profit programs and college and university experiences that enriched me and built my network and helped me to become a well-rounded person. It also helped to strengthen my resume.
Here are five tips and suggestions that I have developed for you to put being a mentee and start your mentor journey in your network.
5 TIPS to Build your Mentoring Network
1.) Attend seminars and workshops sponsored by the university. In many of these forums, you will meet like-minded students and connect with speakers that will allow you to think beyond your possible imagination with your life and career.
2.) Join a student club in your major, and learn about career opportunities. These clubs have specific opportunities and tracks on how to get internships in your major and summer programs in the law, medical school, and the sciences.
3.) Find a professor in your department that has the same research interests and volunteer with them on a research project, proposal, or grant. This will give you valuable experience and also a great recommendation letter for your graduate program or a potential job prospect.
4.) Volunteer with a community group like the United Way of Greater Atlanta and/or become a member of an affinity group like the 100 Black Men of Atlanta. Both of these opportunities are two blocks away from Georgia State University's campus on Auburn Avenue where you will meet career professionals with networks and resources. Find some of these opportunities through your student activities office. In the Boston area, there are many places to volunteer. Programs like BAM Boston are essential in providing opportunities to young people who need mentoring support. As well as the Salvation Army Kroc Boston Center in Dorchester that provides family programming and great recreational opportunities for youth. Again, the United Way of Massachusetts Bay is also a great place for you to volunteer your services.
5.) Visit local public middle and high schools and bring fellow students with you. Speak to a guidance counselor or principal and set up a time once a month to mentor students about your own college journey and why it is important to pursue post-secondary education. If they see you can do it, they will believe they can do it too.
Find out more about these mentoring and volunteering opportunities on your campus by logging onto the Greatest MINDS website at www.gminds.org.
Here is the video of the Leadership Forum I attended: "What Does Leadership Look Like ? " - https://youtu.be/1WgVs6cbKD4
About George R. Greenidge, Jr.:
George R. Greenidge, Jr. is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology with a concentration in Race and Urban Studies at Georgia State University (GSU). He recently was an Economic Fellow with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and an Urban Fellow with the GSU Law School’s Center for the Comparative Study of Metropolitan Growth where he researched urbanization, minority populations, and the interdisciplinary dialogue on urban growth and management issues for cities. He lives between Atlanta and Boston and serves as the President and Executive Director of the Greatest MINDS and participates as a member of the Creative Media Industries Institute (CMII) and the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute. In his free time, George enjoys the sport of triathloning, traveling abroad, collecting vintage comic books, listening to world and house music, and taking pictures of urban neighborhoods, downtown architecture, and city landscapes. You can reach him on LinkedIn or at www.georgegreenidge.com.