How did your mentoring relationship develop?
I've had Shannon Sterne, Associate Professor in the Dance Department, as a professor for 5 semesters (next will be the 6th), beginning with my first semester on campus.
Shannon is honest and unafraid to have difficult conversations with me - I can't count how many times she has told me I need to slow down and take time for myself! She took a nervous freshman with a lack of confidence in herself and helped her grow into a dance major full of belief in herself.
Shannon came into my life when I was at a vulnerable turning point and dedicated herself to helping me navigate all four college years. She also helped me get into medical school!
Sree Sreenath, Professor in EECS Department was actually my first year SAGES advisor, but is also a professor in the systems and control department.
How did your mentor enhance your undergraduate career?
From an academic standpoint, Frank enhanced my undergraduate experience by showing me what true passion looks like from a professor. He showed me that incredible teachers can make topics exciting and can make students have a personal stake in what they are learning.
The two classes I have taken with him have been great for my own intellectual development as well as professional. From a more professional side, Frank took me under his wing and introduced me to one of my other close mentors, Peter Williams (Swagelok Co.) and Sunniva Collins (Swagelok Co. and CWRU).
A big part of being a mentor is expanding the mentee's field of experience, breadth of understanding, and making introductions to new and exciting resources so that they may grow even more on their own, through meeting and forming relationships with others. He has made my last year of undergrad more successful and enjoyable than I could have ever hoped for. Frank Ernst is truly an incredible mentor.
I have learned how to utilize a meeting effectively. Before every meeting, Amie Jackson, Associate Director of Greek Life and I would both have an agenda of things that we would want to discuss. We used this as a way to foster even more discussion and, thus, a better understanding of what is to be accomplished outside of this meeting.
I now understand how to act as an effective leader and how to utilize my organizational values as a source of guidance.
From conversations I've had with Dr. Karie Feldman, Associate Professor in the Sociology Department, we seem to be fairly similar in terms of our interests and drive to do something meaningful with our careers.
She was one of the first people who made me really understand that it is okay to not have everything completely figured out and to change career paths if what you originally thought you were interested in is not working out.
I was really unsure if what I was originally studying (mechanical engineering) was on the right path for me. I sat down with him sophomore year and we discussed what systems and control really was and what people do after graduation who have this major.
He really listened to my interest and explain how systems and control actually fit that. I am now really happy with my major and I give a big thanks to him. I asked him for a letter of recommendation for a masters program I applied for too.
Advice for Students Seeking a Mentor
I think everyone at CWRU has something to offer in terms of experience, perspective, and support. Ask questions to everyone you meet- how they got where they are, why they wanted this career path, etc.
Find someone who is willing to invest time and resources into you and your future and honestly sometimes it takes some nudging - no one is going to know what you need as far as support goes until you tell them.
Go sit down and meet with anyone that you admire and respect. They will give you time so get to know them. They have been in your shoes and will help you more than you know. Their experience and advice is so valuable to helping you make the best of your time at CWRU.