USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
The value of mentoring starts with being mentored: It is learning that someone else understands what you are going through. It is discovering that others have found their way down that same road. It is realizing with delight that there’s a hand to grab as you walk that fraught path yourself.
Finally, it is the joy of becoming the one who extends that hand to the seeker coming up behind. I can remember nearly every time in my life when such people, those with knowledge, ability, or access, paused to share their gifts with me for no other reason than because they could. Whether it was the Latin teacher in high school who validated my free thinking, or my youth minister frankly relating his true thoughts on spirituality with his relentlessly inquiring communicant, or that college professor who made me promise to send in that application to graduate school, or the support group members who held me as I began losing those I thought I could not bear to lose. Each one of them, each time, lifted me up out of my own smallness and into a bigger world, one more filled with possibilities than I had dreamed to imagine on my own. It is to honor them, my mentors, that I give back in that same way, seeking nothing in return but to open a door for someone else just as someone first opened it for me.