Mentorship

I have had many mentors in my life.

Karen Hall was my high school theatre teacher.  She had short red hair and reminded me a lot of Sandra Bernhardt.  Her dad was a producer for the Bozo Show and I thought that was so cool!  She had us call her Karen and would let us swear if we needed to.  I took theatre as a class and auditioned for the plays because it sounded fun to me, and it was fun, but I didn’t expect more from it.  One morning during my Junior year I was standing in the cafeteria line before classes to get breakfast.  She hopped in behind me and said, “Good Morning Ms. Katy.  Have you begun thinking about where you are going to go to college?” I replied that I didn’t.  She said, “Well, when you are ready, come talk to me because there are some great acting programs that I want you to look into. ” I started laughing and told her that I didn’t intend to go to school for acting.  She asked me why, and when I didn’t have an answer (my truth was “I’m not good enough”) she saw right through it and said, “You are talented and it would be a waste if you don’t go for it.”  And then she was off.  And I stood in the lunch room feeling like a new door had opened in my life.  I started going to her office every week to talk, bounce ideas off of her, and figure out how to walk through this new door.

Wendi Whitman is the Director of Academic Advisement at Illinois Sate University, where I went to school.  I started working as a Peer Advisor on her caseload the summer after my freshman year.  It was a highly coveted job on campus and I stayed at it until the summer after I graduated.  Wendi taught me how to listen and remain calm and compassionate even when you want to throttle someone.  She encouraged me to study abroad, and to think outside the box.  She brought me into her home and I got to spend time with her amazing boys.  To this day she is a very good friend to me.

Sandi Zelinski was a mentor to SO many people in the theatre department at ISU, and I was among them.  Her focus was on Theatre Education, but as an Acting student, I gravitated to her energy and her level headedness.  She LOVED the work, but resisted the politics.  She recognized people’s strengths, and could smell bullshit a mile away.  When the Improv Mafia was getting it’s ass kicked by the administration (oh how things have changed!), she took us on and allowed us to stay afloat.  When I needed to hide and cry, she opened her office doors and listened.

When I moved up to Chicago and realized I had a knack for event planning, I did a google search for “wedding coordinators” and Keely’s name (and business at the time) came up.  I attended a class she was teaching on starting your own wedding planning business and knew immediately that I needed to be nestled under her wing if I was going to get anywhere.  So I started volunteering, and I kept calling and emailing and begging her to let me do stuff for her.  She did and eventually we were working side by side.  She saw something in me and that gave me confidence.  Keely is amazingly organized and her drive is something to see.  I learned that you can be a business woman, but still be friendly and open at the same time.  And that there is no shame in going after what you want because the worst anyone can say to you is, “no.”

In this new phase of my career, I find myself looking for another mentor.  I wish I was more like Keely and Wendi- unafraid of limits and of doing things wrong- more willing to just dive in head first and see what happens, but I am not.  I am more of a toe dipper.  Luckily, the Doula community is very open and friendly and the concept of mentorship is widely accepted here.

So, I guess this post is a Thank You to all the mentors that have shaped me thus far, and to future mentors that take me on.  I hope I can make you proud and continue the tradition by mentoring others when my time comes!

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August 4, 2011. Uncategorized.

One Comment

  1. theskyandback replied:

    Great post! I have had many great writing mentors along the way, but I have not had the opportunity to mentor anyone yet – I hope to someday! I think mentoring is incredibly important, especially for women.

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