A key factor to being successful toward your preparation for graduate school is finding a mentor! A mentor can be a faculty, university administrator or community leader. Some students also have family members, peers, or graduate students who serve as mentors. A mentor knows the education process, is invested in your educational progress, and provides resources and guidance for your personal and professional achievement. Many students find one mentor and continue to be advised by this one individual throughout their college education. It is highly recommended for students to find MULTIPLE mentors. Each mentor will teach you something different. It is recommended that a mentor teach you about research, another can be a practitioner in your field, and another can have many years of experience and wisdom. Take time to develop a quality mentorship relationship with your mentors and do not take them for granted.

Mentors guide, provide advice, help you to socialize, become connected and networked into your field. Mentors are role models for you to follow and have knowledge to share. These individuals have insight on how to help you be accepted in your field of interest and help you develop your skills to make up a strong academic portfolio.

Any faculty cannot become your mentor. You must feel a connection with the individual and the person must have an investment in your academic progress. You do not want to assume that anyone will take the role of functioning as a mentor. Some faculty have many students they advise and do not have the time to be mentors for everybody. Most faculty feel enriched by fostering mentoring relations and feel honored to work with committed students invested in issues they research.

Mentorship is a critical component for the retention of ethnic racial minorities in higher education. A mentor guides, provides training and inside information to the mentee for professional/educational and personal growth.

A mentor is committed to the personal development of the student and is concerned of the social influences that affect the student and their educational experiences. Mentors play multiple roles in a mentor-mentee relationship. A good mentor teaches, collaborates, role models, advocates, assesses, evaluates, and guides. This individual is invested in the student and helps the student build confidence in their potential. Patience, leadership, and visionary abilities are a few of the important skills a mentor requires to be most effective.

Dr. Castellanos’ educational journey was one that was tremendously influenced by mentors and role models. Dr.¬†Joseph White taught her the importance of navigating the system and worked closely with her to identify academic culture, its politics, and the role of civic responsibility. He helped to enhance her student development and exposed her to various opportunities that she needed to pursue for graduate school. Dr. White helped to articulate the dream, to move into a positive learning process, provided support to build the necessary self-confidence. In the process, he instilled the value of mentorship, community service, collaboration, and change (White mentorship model, 2002). Today, their relationship remains strong where the two write together, present at professional conferences, and do educational consultations on student success, cultural competency, and intuitional change.

Dr. Castellanos’ philosophy of a good educator includes the role of an active mentor. In the process of assisting students to attain experience in the identified areas, Dr. Castellanos assesses their social support, family ties, ethnic identity understanding, and self-confidence. As a mentor, she assists the learner to identify their passion, their potential, strengths, and ultimate purpose.