Honoring Mothers – Our First Mentors

By Marcia Bankirer, PhD, CWCC member

Because it’s May and the subject for this article is mentorship, I would be remiss if I did not mention all the Mothers out there who, for many of us – whether we realize it or not, were our first mentors.When you look at the definition of mentorship, and there are many, one refers to it as a “personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. “   Another definition says “Mentoring is a process that always involves communication and is relationship based.”  That sounds a lot like the work of a Mom!

I polled staff and students on my university campus and asked this question;  “When you hear the word mentor – what do you think of?”  Here are a few of their answers:  mother  (I kid you not!); guidance; foundation; teacher; leader; respect; colleague; friend; unselfish; lifelong; gift; knowledge; wisdom; sage…

What great and meaningful words, and how wonderful that this one word can generate so many descriptions.  From an educators standpoint I think one of the most unique and significant traits of being a mentor is the fact that it is ageless – or should I say, has no age limit, for either the mentor or the mentee.  We see this positive action start in elementary school where we encourage our nine and ten year olds to help stop bullying, and to take the opposite approach – mentoring.  This is often reinforced in middle school and high school where the need is so great, where a teacher, coach, or friend influences our decisions.  Once in college and out in the professional workforce, the generosity of someone who can say, “I want you to be successful and I want to help you” is what helps the betterment of society as a whole.  Mentoring feeds into not only student success, business success, or life choices, but the success of the institution or organization.

The Colorado Women’s Chamber can be a fabulous source for a mentor; network at the lunches, or Business-After-Hours. Don’t be afraid to ask for someone who can help you.  It need not be someone in your exact field, either, leadership skills and experiences cross many boundaries.

So if you are perplexed by the idea of a Mother’s Day gift this year, try thinking outside the box-volunteer as a mentor, and give someone a gift that will last a lifetime!

Marcia Bankirer, PhD, serves as President of Argosy University, Denver. She has a 35+ year history in higher education administration, including 20 years at Colorado State University. As of the Fall 2010 census, Argosy University, Denver was comprised of 72% female population. “Being a member of the Colorado Women’s Chamber keeps us close to the needs of the community and our students,” says Bankirer.

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