USC School of Cinematic Arts
USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
Mentoring has never felt like an obligation. I always feel that I get so much out of it myself—stimulation, challenge, a surprising journey, a connection to the students’ energy, enthusiasm, and hopes for the future. Then occasionally, at moments like this one, there’s the gratifying revelation that I have had a positive influence on some of their lives.
Whether students come in to discuss their film or media campaign, talk over a life problem, get advice on applying for a Fulbright, or consider possible career paths, I know my main task is to listen well and then try to ask good questions, including the difficult ones: Why is this the story you want to tell or the social change campaign you want to design? What do you know about the culture you’re portraying or want to do work in? What are you passionate about? What tugs at your sleeve?
I feel incredibly fortunate to have had more than an ephemeral association with so many students and former students. I had a teacher who subsequently became a wonderfully generous life mentor for me, and when former students stay in touch over the years, I not only have the pleasure of seeing them find their way in the world, but hope I have respected my mentor’s memory, her wisdom, and the warm encouragement she gave me. For all these reasons, I am delighted and quite moved to be honored with a Mellon Mentoring Award.