Jessica Parr

USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
Jessica Parr
Photo by Steve Cohn Photography

There are various types of mentors, role models, cheerleaders, enforcers, advocates. Some mentoring is formal, while other mentoring can come from a singular piece of advice. One of my earliest mentors was Mr. Massey, my Algebra teacher. When he taught us to factor, he said, “Take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves.” I still find myself using this in all aspects of my life, particularly when I have a large task to accomplish. Another significant mentor of mine is Dr. Esther Gibbs. During my sophomore year, I was panicked by the idea of what came after graduation. Dr. Gibbs wisely informed me that I was 19 years old and did not need to know what I was going to do with the rest of my life. I often pass this wisdom on to my own students.

I would not be where I am today without Dr. Hanna Reisler, my graduate advisor, who continues to act as a mentor throughout my teaching career. She has filled all of the above roles at one time or another. While working with my students I try to put myself in their shoes and offer the best advice or example for the present situation, while drawing on my own experiences being mentored. Not every student needs the same solution. I make sure to listen carefully to my students. I am most satisfied when I see a student’s concerns eased, or am able to put them on the appropriate path.