November is here, and it is one of the most important months of the mentoring calendar: the month where we celebrate and give thanks to the wonderful mentees and mentors who make up this field. This year, we're celebrating Thank Your Mentee Month by sharing powerful stories of exceptional mentoring relationships that have positively shaped the lives of both participants.
We were recently joined for an interview by Kashawn Sanders, a mentor and the President and CEO of Follow My Steps Foundation INC:
Q. How has being a Mentor changed you and your perspective on the world?
A. "Being a mentor has changed my perspective on the world dramatically. I feel like my eyes have been opened to what can be. The impact that a mentor has is greater than most people realize. If you can inspire, and educate youth to help them be prepared to become a successful professional and potential future leader, the world will have been changed for the better."
Q. What is an important lesson you have learned from one of your mentees?
A. "I learned the importance of saying I don't know. In one of my mentoring experiences, I was tasked with leading a group of teens to create an innovative business idea that centers around it being eco-friendly. I had one of the mentees ask me what are the biggest eco-friendly initiatives in the world. Rather than speculate, I told them "I don't know, but let's find out together". Then I went on to explain to them that they're not going to know everything in life, but the things that want to learn they just have to look for the information, it just takes a little effort. They remembered this moment and mentioned it as one of their notable lessons from me in their review."
Q. Why is being a mentor so important to you?
A. "Being a mentor is important to me because I know how important mentorship is. I've benefited from having many mentors in my life, and it helped dramatically shape my future. It's saved me time, connected me with individuals who have helped propelled my career forward, and gave me the feeling that someone was rooting for me. Those are key moments in my life I reflect on and want to provide to others."
Q. What would you like to thank your mentees for?
A. "I would like to thank my mentees for trusting me. Trust isn't an easy thing to receive from anyone. The fact that they trusted me with guiding them in whatever path their headed means a lot. It shows that they know I care, and genuinely want the best for them. To be able to see them succeed and reach their goals will be the biggest reward. That will also be something I look forward to thanking them for, when that time comes."
Sam Steed is the MMP AmeriCorp Ambassador of Mentoring and a Father Monan Fellow.