A number of years ago, I received an email from Reesa Greenwald, the director of the Seton Hall University Career Center, asking me to be a mentor in a program called CHAMP (Communication Honors Alumni Mentor Program). The program was actually launched in 2011 as the Communication Honors Associates Mentoring Program. I am a proud Seton Hall alum and was also serving as an adjunct faculty member at the time. The email was worded in a way that seemed to indicate that this was meant for people who lived in close proximity to the campus – as opposed to someone like me living in southern California. Just before I hit “delete” (assuming this email wasn’t meant for me), I reread it and thought to myself, “I could do this remotely. Maybe I’ll see if Reesa would be open to that.” Fortunately for me, she agreed to give it a try.
According to Paul Ward, the alum who spearheads this program: “CHAMP was designed to bring together successful alumni with current Communication students to share tips and practical advice on navigating the many career opportunities a degree from Seton Hall can offer. The response from the students and the mentors was overwhelmingly positive and the program allowed two generations of Pirates to develop both networking opportunities and great friendships. We’re looking forward to offering this program to even more Pirates as we move forward.”
Four years later, it appears our little experiment worked – especially for me. CHAMP mentors are matched with one student per year. I see to it that I meet with the student who is assigned to me in person at least once, but otherwise our conversations take place via Skype, Zoom, phone, email or text. I went into this hoping I could give back to the university and help some aspiring communication professionals. Turns out, I can say unequivocally that the benefits go both ways. I share my experiences and perspective, while they share their aspirations and keep me current.
A few weeks ago, I attended a CHAMP event on campus. I loved it! There was a great deal of talk about how the students benefit from the many alumni who give their time and share their expertise. While that may be true, I’m pretty sure the other alums share my sentiment about how much we all get in return. For me, it’s one more example of how 1+1 can = 3.
Pictured above are two of the students I was fortunate enough to work with and to whom I will be forever grateful and always available (l to r) Siobhan McGirl (Senior) and Sarah Auerbach (Sophomore), not pictured are graduates Phil Burrows and Mawuena Sedodo. Mentoring matters – for all involved.