Mentors Make a Difference!

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Kaylin Sheppard
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When I learned that I would receive a mentor through the Pearson Scholarship, I was not sure how that would really work. Although I have many people in my life such as my parents and professors who have given me advice and guidance, I was not sure if I really needed a mentor. Would it be difficult to get to know a total stranger who did not necessarily live near me or really know me? I wondered how long it would take to build the relationship.

Now that I have experienced having a formal mentor, I realize that I worried about the mentor experience too much! My mentor, Brooke Pittman, was outstanding. When we made our first connection, I immediately knew this relationship was going to benefit me greatly. We met by video chat and phone a few times and each interaction added value for me in some way. Her best quality was that she was committed to listening to me. I shared my difficulties and successes with her as well as my worries related to being a college student and choosing a lifetime career. I never felt that I was being judged or critiqued in any way. Instead, she made every effort to lift my spirits if needed and encourage me in all my endeavors. She was also open to hearing about my job and personal relationships. Having someone who was focused on my success as a student and as a person was so helpful as I transitioned from community college to the University of Texas at Tyler.

My relationship with my mentor built a confidence in me to pursue activities outside of the classroom when I transferred to UT Tyler. I had shared with her that I was excited about transferring to the university and building new relationships and making lifelong friends. Transition to the university this fall was as easy as I had hoped, but I was committed to doing well in my classes and creating a network of friends who would support me now and into the future. My mentor had once shared that she was in a sorority and that the sorority experience had helped her be a strong student, build leadership skills, and make friends. Early in the fall semester, I had the opportunity to join Zeta Tau Alpha at UT Tyler. I never thought that I would pursue membership in a sorority, but my mentor had encouraged me to consider this type of connection with others. Not only did I join Zeta Tau Alpha, but also I was named to an officer position and I now serve as the Risk Reduction and Education Chairman for our Lambda Sigma chapter of ZTA.

I am truly honored to have been given a mentor through the Pearson Scholarship and I am a better student and person for having invested time and effort into this relationship.


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