The end of the academic year brings many festivities to the Carroll campus. Award ceremonies and honor banquets tell the inspirational stories of our students’ successes. As chaplain, I get to attend many of these events, and while I love hearing about the talent, dedication and insights of our students, what I find most inspiring about these celebrations is the connection between student and mentor.
At a recent academic banquet, faculty advisors presented awards to students showing outstanding merit in their academic disciplines. I heard each professor describe their student awardee with appreciation, admiration and affection. They told humorous stories and inside jokes highlighting how the student had grown. They shared how each student had contributed to their fields of study through scholarship and service. Faculty gave handshakes and hugs, beamed with pride, and even shed tears as they celebrated students they had guided along the way.
If we are fortunate enough to be reading F1RST, our own stories are undoubtedly punctuated with influential mentors. For me, it was my fifth-grade teacher, Mr. Earp, who helped raise me above remedial reading classes. It was my 11th-grade English teacher, Mrs. Scott, who helped me believe I was ready for advanced classes. It was my collegiate professors, Dr. King and Dr. McCutcheon, who helped me find my voice in poetry and prose. It was my college chaplain, Vicki Moss, who put me in a pulpit and taught me to preach. I would not be who I am today without these people.
There’s no substitute for personal investment. No curriculum or program on its own can sharpen one’s wit or shape one’s heart like the guidance and commitment of a mentor. We need guides for the journey. We need companions who see not just who we are, but who we could become. Faculty advisors, athletic coaches, campus supervisors and many others here at Carroll do this on a daily basis. Without acknowledgment or praise, they stay that extra hour, have that extra conversation, go back over that assignment and take time to really listen to their students. Their efforts make education transformational.
Who are your mentors? Who gave of themselves to shape you? Whom are you giving to now? When we let our own hearts reflect the care given to us, we pass on the gifts we have received. And the world is better for it.