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Pay It Forward…Are You Up for the Challenge?

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Guest post by Ericka Hollis

As several students entered and left my office this week, I was reminded why I fell in love with the education field. We have the greatest jobs in the world because we have the opportunity to make a significant impact on our students’ lives. All it takes is some of your time, a listening ear, and a supportive attitude. Do you have what it takes? Are you willing?

I personally challenge you to engage in a genuine mentoring relationship with at least one student this school year. Allow your mentee to really get to know you beyond  your current role. Sit and talk with them on a regular basis. Mentoring relationships can be lasting ones. My mentor from my undergraduate studies and I are still in contact. She was even at my wedding! I learned firsthand how powerful a mentoring relationship could be, and I believe in paying it forward. Do you? If you had a teacher, mentor, coach, etc. who really made an impression on your life, reach out and let them know how they impacted your life. With the Internet at your fingertips, there’s no excuse for not being able to find them. Find them on Facebook (almost everyone has an account these days), send an email, call, or even write a hand written letter. I guarantee that hearing from you will make their day brighter.

I currently lead a mentoring group for females at my university called Much More to Me, which is such a rewarding experience. I have four mentees with extremely different personality and interests, yet I find a way to connect with each of them individually. I am there through their ups and downs. (If you recall what it is like to be an undergrad then you know it can be rollercoaster ride.) I remind them that I remember what it is like, and I offer advice and share personal stories. I challenge them and call them out when they are in the wrong…I show tough love. Our students should know that we care about them as human beings. Take a holistic approach with mentoring and focus on academics, health and wellness, relationships, leadership skills, social skills, communication skills, etc.   

I know it sounds cliché, but one person really can make a difference. Mahatma Gandhi said it best, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Will you pay it forward?

Image credit: Flickr user Feggy Art


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