This time of year always sparks up a new sort of energy within me. Thinking about all the students moving off to school for the first time or even the fresh batch of graduates that are just starting their “adulthood journey” triggers me to reflect and appreciate.
Over the years, my perspective has changed greatly during back to school. In University, it was excitement; reuniting with all my friends and having another year of incredible adventures. Then, it became kind of sad when I wished I was returning to school and had the realization that I needed to “grow up.” Now? It is a celebration. I celebrate all the new beginnings for the first-year students and the stepping stones for those returning to studies. I think back on all the students I have had the opportunity to mentor along the way and all the mentoring these students have provided me as well.
I celebrate all the new beginnings for the new students and the stepping stones for those already in their education.
I’ve come to realize that education is two-way. I’ve always been driven to teach throughout my life. Whether it is in a pool, a riding arena, music, mentoring, or even on the ice, I want to share my passions and excitement with others. Through this, I’ve been more than blessed with some of the most incredible students. Students that I continue to be inspired by and they may not even know it.
When you open your mind and your heart to someone who is willing to learn, it is one of the most incredible experiences on the planet. Whether you’re a teacher or (I would think) a parent, you know that feeling I’m talking about. The excitement that pulses through your body the first time your student grasps a new concept, and it doesn’t matter what that concept is; writing their first paper, or playing their first scale on the piano, it’s all wonderful.
In recent years, I have taken a huge interest in mentorship. I’ve felt compelled to inspire the next generation. Early career/post-secondary is a stressful time of our lives. It’s a time where we are supposed to decide “who we want to be” and “what we want to do” for the rest of our lives. That’s intense pressure. Looking back, there was no way I knew who I was going to be at 18 years old – even if the foundation had been set.
Looking back, there was no way I knew who I was going to be at 18 years old – even if the foundation had been set.
More and more, I’ve been mentoring and writing because I didn’t take a traditional path. I tried to decide who I wanted to be at 18 and realized soon after that it wasn’t what I wanted to be at all. I finished a degree, that at first glance has nothing to do with what I’m doing today, but would surprise people to learn that it has a lot to do with what I’m doing today. I’ve worked from hockey to radio, and municipal to education; seems pretty extensive, but each has been an awesome building block to who I am.
But most importantly, through all of the teaching and mentoring, I’ve met some of the most incredible people; the most incredible students, who have become my teachers. Summer students that have worked for me; tele-campaigners who I spent many snowy weekends in a small teleconference room with; students who have shared their passions and fears with me in a job shadow; students who I’ve taught various activities to…each one of these students has inspired me to be who I am today.
So, to sign off, I have a couple messages to various groups.
To the students: Embrace everything. Open your mind and heart to new experiences. Challenge yourself. Whether you’re in the first year or fourth year or going back to school again for the first time in a long time (I am, actually), remember you can take something away from every course or program you’re in. And lastly, don’t be afraid to get involved; networking, clubs, info session, speakers, all of it.
To the mentors: It’s not just about sharing your experiences with others. It’s about listening to their experiences as well. Listen first, talk second. These students are beyond incredible individuals, but I think as adults we are sometimes quick to judge and talk, and not so quick to listen. You’ll be amazed what you can learn.
Listen first, talk second. It goes for everyone. It’s amazing what we can learn in times of silence. Good luck with school, career, life adventures and more! Thanks for tuning in. 🙂