My Mentor Helped Me Believe the Motto

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Marcus Barissi
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Throughout my education, I’ve seldom found a situation where I was forced to ask for assistance. With this mindset, I’ve gradually developed a severe reluctance to letting people know that I need help with anything. When I began college, I was put into a new environment that was challenging, however my mind was already made up and so when I struggled, I solved my problems in total isolation. During the past 12 months, as the content in my classes has consistently become harder and harder to comprehend, I have realized my methods for solving problems were unbelievably flawed. I am thankful for help that I thought would be a burden, when in reality it was one of the best things possible.

Required Change

When I received my Pearson scholarship, I was immediately overwhelmed with joy and relief. I knew I was getting financial help, but when reading the fine print, I became concerned because I didn’t think the requirement to work with an assigned mentor was necessary. Until then, I had been relatively successful in school, so I thought why would I need to receive advice from someone I had never met, right?


Perfect Timing

My arrogance caught up to me right when I least expected it… in the beginning of my first semester after transferring to a 4-year institution. While I had wanted to attend the prestigious University of Michigan for practically my entire life, I didn’t realize how challenging it would be to retain my level of success once I started taking the difficult upper level courses found in the pre-medicine track. Due to my unpreparedness, I received a much lower GPA than I was used to. I began to doubt my abilities that had once been so highly praised by all those around me. As embarrassing as this minor defeat was to me, I felt completely comfortable speaking about my struggles with my mentor in our monthly one-hour video call. During these chats we discuss the obstacles in our lives and talk about what strategies we are using to deal with them as well as what areas we can improve. 


Impostor syndrome is one of the most conflicting mental states one could possibly find themselves in. I have endured a past full of hardships, so I’m used to people in administrative positions telling me I will never be successful, but to believe just for a moment that they may be right is disheartening. This was easily the worst part about my transition from a 2-year institution to a university as my confidence was diminishing by the day. Having a mentor during that time allowed me to slowly rebuild my problem-solving methodology because collaboration is the only way to truly be successful in your endeavors. Even if you just need someone to listen while you rant about the unfairness of a class or talk something out you don’t understand. It is better is to let it all out than to keep it bottled up on the inside.

I never expected to find myself in this situation and the newness of it all truly terrified me. It was comforting to have the ability to discuss my future plans with someone who holds no negative judgement towards me and who actually believes in my capabilities, even when I don’t. Without the support from my mentor and having someone to talk to, I never would have truly felt what my school’s motto says:

It’s great. To be. A Michigan Wolverine.

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