Honors Mentors: Working to Build Community
Two years ago, I sat in the seats of 200 Richards Hall asking the same question I hear every year: What exactly am I getting out of this? Like many freshmen, I thought I knew everything. I was the wise guy who thought he was too good for the class. It wasn’t until the end of my first semester, when I began regularly meeting with an Honors advisor, that I discovered a connection to the Honors Program. These meetings allowed the Honors staff to see my potential and to encourage me to apply to be a mentor for the following year.
Becoming a mentor myself allowed me to realize how much I had to learn from the course and from my mentors. Sitting in Enhancing Honors for the second year in a row, I noticed something different. I started to see beyond the one-credit course, beyond the assignments, and beyond the fight against sleep from 4:35-5:40 pm once a week. I began to see the formation of a connection with the Honors Program that I hadn’t previously noticed. I began to know the names of staff members and students. I got to know people from different backgrounds, with different lifestyles and personalities. I began to see the Honors Program as my own niche within the university.
This fall was my second time serving as an Honors mentor and each year has been slightly different. With each year comes a new batch of students with a new set of personalities, experiences, and attitudes. Getting to know these students during breakout sessions and our walkabout has given me a better understanding of the type of students Northeastern attracts, as well as what their various interests and aspirations are. In addition, the feedback from the students has taught me a great deal about the effectiveness and limitations of my own leadership and mentoring style.
Each year also brings a new co-mentor, with their own unique personality and mentoring style. Having a different co-mentor each year has taught me about the interplay of these personalities and styles when leading discussion. I’ve learned more about my own leadership style and the leadership styles of other mentors. Yet each year, I rediscover that I have so much more to learn.
When I became a mentor, I set out with the goal of becoming a positive influence on both the program and the university. I wanted to help the program move forward and become better. Being able to have a positive influence on the experiences of students is one of the most rewarding things about being a mentor. It may be impossible to reach every student, but seeing the positive impact that I am able to make and hearing positive feedback from students is what keeps bringing me back for more.
Becoming a mentor has given me a better understanding of the capabilities and benefits of the Northeastern Honors Program. I am able to see firsthand the effort that goes into creating a community of students that is connected both inside and outside the classroom. I’ve discovered that the true value of the mentor program lays in this community, in connecting freshman with upperclassman, the university as a whole, and the city they now call home. Mentoring allows me to be a part of this community and this community is what makes Northeastern feel like home for me.
-Matt Mariano, Communication Studies