November 26, 2018
Viewpoint

Mentoring takes a village

Luis Pedraja

Who believed in you before you believed in yourself? Today, for one in three young people the answer is no one. Research shows a young person with a mentor is more likely to be successful not only on an academic level, but professional and personal ones. Mentoring builds self-confidence and self-esteem; provides motivation; delivers vital life skills; offers conflict resolution strategies; and enables young people to grow into their full potential. Whether formal or informal, a mentor is considered a trusted resource making the difference in a person's life. There's a capacity for greatness coming when someone supports you.

In today's society, one in three children will reach the age of 19 without having an adult mentor. This is unfortunate, as mentors can play a critical role in the success of today's youth, and build stronger communities as a result of their investment of time.

Young people who have access to a mentor are:

• 55 percent more likely to enroll in college

• 78 percent more likely to volunteer regularly

• 90 percent are interested in becoming a mentor

• 130 percent more likely to hold leadership positions

• 46 percent less likely than their peers to start using illegal drugs and 27 percent less likely to start drinking

• 81 percent more likely to have extracurricular activities

And it's not just the mentees who benefit from the relationship. Mentoring programs play a critical role in helping business attract and retain employees. Companies with mentoring programs have higher job satisfaction among employees. Corporate mentors make a difference by:

• Helping set goals and taking the steps to realize them

• Using personal contacts to help young people network

• Introducing them to new resources and organizations

• Providing skills for seeking and keeping a job

At Quinsigamond Community College, mentoring is a critical component to our institution. An integral piece of our mentoring program are community partners. These partners bring an added element, helping students to develop employer-desired skills, build professional networks and gain an understanding of workplace expectations. These are the employers who will be looking for their next employee when students enter the workforce.

By being a mentor, you can enhance your own professional skills, become a better leader and help shape the leaders of tomorrow. Mentors create a legacy by paying it forward. On a corporate level, mentoring brings benefits to companies. By instituting a mentoring program, companies show their employees and the outside world they are engaged and care about their current and future workforce.

The mentoring relationship is a special one. Many mentees have become mentors, myself included, and that gift of paying it forward is transformative. It's up to us to help the next generation. Today, take a moment, think of your mentors and how they changed your life, and consider the gift of mentorship. It may just be the best gift you've ever given.

Luis Pedraja is president of Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester.

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