Mentorship matters. In The Impact of Being a Mentor, by Brittney Oliver founder of Lemons to Lemonade, four women discussed how mentorship has influenced their lives. Each answered four questions:
How is mentorship important to you?
When and why did you first become a mentor?
What has been the biggest reward of mentoring?
How has mentoring changed your life?
On how mentoring changes lives, below are the responses.
Mentoring has changed my life as I have been able to connect with many young women who would not have known about a career such as mine. Mentoring has also allowed me to be more confident in myself and stick true to my beliefs. As I continue to pour into my mentees based on my own experiences, I realize that the life I have chosen to pursue was not a mistake, but what I was destined to do.
Manessa Lormejuste, Cosmetic Chemist at L’Oreal USA
I am a better person and leader because I’m a mentor. My listening and communication skills have improved, and my patience and empathy have increased. I enjoy helping others achieve their goals, so I also have an increased sense of personal pride from seeing a person I mentored succeed.
Nekasha Pratt, Director of Marketing, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development
Mentoring has made me a better person, and I think it has made others better. It has increased my relationships with others and allowed me the chance to encourage others to do their very best. It makes me live a purpose-driven life because I know that people are looking up to me. I understand that I can’t give the shirt off my back if I don’t have a shirt on. So, it makes me take care of myself, so I can care for others.
Carjie Scott, Higher Education Administrator
Mentoring has given me a sense of purpose and accomplishment. We don’t have to fly to the moon or cure cancer to be extraordinary. Through empowering, supporting, and sharing with those who need it — we are extraordinary.
Crystle Johnson, Sr. Consultant, Inclusion, Diversity & CSR at Electronic Arts
You are Accepted: How to Get Accepted into College and Life
Carjie Scott provides a first-hand account of her experience as an administrator serving at trade schools, graduate institutions, and HBCUs. You are Accepted, is required reading for first-generation college students and higher education professionals. It encourages readers to own their story and accept themselves so that they can transform education for individuals who were historically excluded from attending college.
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Many authors are credited for the old proverb, “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.” This simple phrase describes the importance of an experienced fisherman sharing his wisdom with a man who wants to catch a fish.
If the experienced fisherman simply gives his fish to the man who is fishing, he is not serving his neighbor at the fishing dock. The neighbor may be grateful for the fish given to him; however, every time he takes the fish from the fisherman he becomes more dependent on the fisherman and less likely to learn to fish on his own.
Great mentors do not ‘give fish,’ they create relationships. I had a conversation with Dr. Rosevelt Noble, a married father with many hats and a mentor to a number of students.
When asked to describe mentorship, he said, “Mentorship is providing advice, guidance, counsel, and support to help people through the development process. The development process can include becoming a man, becoming a CEO, or parenting a son.”
He believes that mentors can serve in different purposes. “They can be cheerleaders, fact checkers, or critics. What limits people is their narrow perception of what mentorship looks like.”
I asked Dr. Noble to share who his mentor is. “My closest mentor is a 70-year-old white female, I have been in contact with her for over 20 years. She was one of my favorite professors in college. We talk weekly about pressing issues.” Dr. Noble, a black man from a neighborhood outside of Chicago, and his mentor grew up in extreme poverty.
He said, “Although you may not be able to tell from appearances, our backgrounds lined up and she was just a good person.” I asked Dr. Noble, “How would you suggest that students find good mentors?” He responded, “You have to put yourself in places and in positions to be developed.” He continued. “You have to develop a relationship with the person and often times you have to ask them to be your mentor.”
I said to Dr. Noble, “What about the students who do not put themselves in a position to be developed?” I continued. “There are many students who need mentorship but are not aware of how to ask for it.” He replied, “There was a time when I made myself someone’s mentor.”
He shared the story of a male student who was basically written off by a ton of people. Dr. Noble was able to build a rapport with the student. He quickly learned that the student was dealing with depression. His mom had even lost contact with her son.
While cultivating a relationship with the student Dr. Noble was able to build a relationship with his mom. In conversations, they both began calling him, “Dr. Rosie.” Soon, he had influence over the student and was able to become a mentor to him. The student was able to overcome his situation and get back on the right track.
From my conversation with Dr. Noble, I learned a number of lessons.
Dig deep, below the surface, when choosing a mentor.
If someone chooses you to be their mentor, be prepared to develop others instead of just giving to others.
Mentors have mentors too. In fact, you should have multiple mentors and each should serve a different purpose.
If you have found a potential mentor, don’t be afraid to ask the person to be your mentor.
If you want to be someone’s mentor that hasn’t asked for your help, that’s okay. When you have something to offer, you can and should make a difference in a person’s life.
Dr. Kemi Elufiede is the President of Carnegie Writers, Inc. Since 2010, Dr. Elufiede started writing groups in Huntsville, Savannah, Atlanta, and Nashville. She has always been passionate about education because of the learning struggles she experienced. These experiences helped her grow personally and professionally.
“Initially, writing was a hobby and my passion for writing helped to start Carnegie Writers,” said Elufiede. It started as a writers group that met in the library and there was no intention of creating a non-profit. However, the group did more than write together. The group hosted writers workshops, book fairs, conferences, and guidance on book publications. Elufiede continued, “Our events made money and benefited the community, we felt that it would be best to designate ourselves as a non-profit.”
Today, the groups are continuing their events and maintaining membership diversity. “When I say diverse, I mean, ethnicity, writing genres, backgrounds, experiences, age, and writing ability,” mentioned Elufiede. The groups attract people from different walks of life. “Our writing groups spark rich conversations.”
Some of the goals of the writing group members are:
learn how to publish a book
market a blog
connect with established authors
“Our writing group members are never permanent. Anyone can join and we are always looking to grow and reach new people.”
Carnegie Writers’ Group (CWG) Nashville meets every 2nd and 4th Saturday of month at Green Hills Branch Library at 3 pm. Meetings include guest speaker presentations and writers workshops. Check this out for upcoming meeting dates.
The Equity Alliance is arguably one of the most influential grassroots organizations in Nashville. It is a social justice advocacy group that works to engage communities of color, particularly African-Americans, about their voting power. I chatted with Charlane Oliver, Co-Founder and President of The Equity Alliance, to learn more about why the organization was started.
I asked Charlane, “What motivated you to start The Equity Alliance?”
“So, it was a series of events and it was out of frustration. It started with Trayvon Martin’s murder. He was killed two days after my son was born. I started seeing things differently – the bias and the laws against black men – and how we are looked at as disposable.”
“Then George Zimmerman, his murderer, got off. Trayvon lost his life but George did not. I started to question the system. I knew I had to do something but I wasn’t exactly sure what I should do. I thought about becoming an attorney, or running for office to get involved and get things in check. Then, other things happened like the flint water crisis and I began to wonder – do we give a damn about black and brown people in this country?”
Charlane continued, “I worked in the 7th richest county in the nation, it’s very affluent, very privileged, and very white.” This was where Charlane learned how these communities influenced elections, how their wealth created power and a utopia for them, and how one of the richest counties in the nation became that way.
Charlane was frustrated with the disparity going on in our country and wanted to build some political power. “A face came across my screen of a young girl named Christian Buggs. She was running for the School Board.” Charlane had a mutual friend with Buggs. The mutual friend connected them, and Charlane offered to manage her political campaign for free.
This was the start of her political influence. As Public Relations manager, Charlane was able to help Buggs win the Metro Nashville School Board seat with hardly any money, less resources than their opponent, and no prior campaign management experience.
Charlane stated, “None of the old guards in Nashville were willing to give Buggs the keys to the city. She was going to have to earn this position and I had to help her.”
While campaigning for Buggs, Charlane met Tequila Johnson, who is now the Vice President and fellow Co-Founder of The Equity Alliance. “We won that together but only two or three thousand people voted.” Charlane was encouraged by the win and learned that more needed to be done to get voters engaged.
The decrease of black voters in the 2016 election charged Charlane. According to a Pew Research Center Study (2017), the black voter turnout rate declined for the first time in 20 years in a presidential election, falling to 59.6% in 2016 after reaching a record-high 66.6% in 2012.
“I sent out a text to my partners and we met on November 18, 2016. Yes, I remember the exact date. Then, I pitched the idea.” Originally, she wanted to start a political action committee (PAC) to get more people like Buggs on the ballot; but, as the group continued to meet, their aim changed.
That year, Charlane and her partners hosted 24 events from November to February. She recalled, “We hosted an event with Conscious Conversation and had a panel of politicians – Lee Harris, Memphis Mayoral Candidate, Attorney Raumesh Akbari, Senate District 29 – and others. The event was packed and all 150 seats were filled in the SEIU Labor Union that day,” Charlane stated enthusiastically. “I knew that we were on to something, our people were longing for events like this and we wanted to engage them year round.”
I interrupted and said, “Charlane, the Black Womens’ Empowerment Brunch was the definition of Black Girl Magic,” she laughed. “We got so much positive feedback from that event. One girl said that it felt like the Essence Festival was in Nashville.” Charlane continued further. “We hosted that event because black women never get the credit they deserve. We wanted to provide a safe space for black women to be who they are and feel proud of it. We don’t get these opportunities enough.”
Charlane says there will be another Black Womens’ Empowerment Brunch next year. “That brunch exceeded our expectations. People are getting engaged with what we are working on. It is a new day.”
I asked Charlane, “What are your thoughts on the Tennessee midterm elections?”
“We have made some great gains, we have a lot of people participating now. In 2014, people sat on their hands and fell asleep at the wheel. This time more people went to the polls and participated.”
“From lil Pookie of the projects to Mrs. Catherine with the college degree. We have moved the needle further. We are engaging people who have been sitting on the sidelines for a long time, Now we are giving them tools, strategies, opportunities to plug in, and hope.”
At the end of our conversation, I thanked Charlane for her time and service to our community.