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 October 2007 • NIRSA news and information
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Leadership Notes

A leader is a dealer in hope

Diane Sylofski

Random House defines a mentor as "a wise and trusted counselor or teacher" and "an influential senior sponsor or supporter." The term mentor originates with the Greek myth in which Odysseus entrusts Mentor with the education of his son Telemachus. A popular 18th century French book revived the life of Mentor and established the term mentor as we use it today.

Many of us can identify our experienced teachers, our influential supporters, at our own institutions. Like Odysseus, we trust the leadership of our mentors because of the vast amounts of wisdom and experience they offer. The 2007-2008 Student Leadership Team (SLT) strongly believes in the effectiveness of the mentor/student relationship. Professional mentors cannot only prepare us for our future careers, but can expand our networks as well. In addition, the close relationships many of us cultivate with our mentors can be invaluable to our continued achievement. This year's SLT is dedicated to expanding learning opportunities for students, utilizing the new NIRSA Mentor Program to position students for success. Students will be paired with professionals at other campuses to increase learning and networking, in addition to providing alternate frames of reference.

Check out the NIRSA Mentor Program webpage, contact your Regional Student Representative, or learn more about the program at a conference or workshop in your region. Students and professionals can apply to the program online, through email to Regional Student Representatives, or at regional conferences. After students and professionals are notified of their pairings, the Student Leadership Team will provide each student with discussion topics each month. Ask your mentor about these subjects, and feel free to digress to learn even more about campus recreation and goal attainment.

Napoleon once said, "A leader is a dealer in hope." The leadership of mentors can enable students to positively foresee their futures. Notify professionals and students at your school of this opportunity to engage in thoughtful conversation about the field itself and professional experience in general. Please join the Student Leadership Team at the 2008 Annual Conference in Austin to discuss with the team and with other students some of the things you learned from the experience. Hold on to what you gain, and realize that someday you will be someone else's Mentor, someone else's dealer in hope.

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