Inside the cavernous Frazier Hall one day last spring, young men and women shifted nervously in new business attire, chatting timidly to strangers in the heroic struggle to prepare for what social scientists refer to as “real life.” These Bellarmine students were in Frazier to meet their alumni mentors – successful people with expert experience in the daunting professional world, where people have jobs and go to sleep before 4 a.m.
This event, one of three organized gatherings and numerous less formal ones, was part of the Bellarmine Alumni-Student Mentoring Program, a networking service provided by the BU Alumni Association. The din was deafening. It was the sound of ice breaking, of relationships forming, of human kindness. It was pretty great.
At first I was reluctant to sign on as a mentor because, if I may paraphrase Groucho Marx, I didn’t want to offer advice to any organization that would have me as a mentor. But I remember what it was like when I graduated in ’81. A recession began pretty much the day of our commencement. Inflation and unemployment were on the rise. Jobs were scarce, and no company wanted to hire a hippie with big hair who had an allergy to neckties and a tendency to talk too much about Kurt Vonnegut. If nothing else, I could tell my protégés (I refuse to call them “mentees”) that.
What I didn’t see coming was how much I would benefit from the experience. I’ve now advised three students in the program, and several more in the Mock Interview program, and each time I came away with a renewed fondness for our students and an appreciation for the way Bellarmine connects people. Hifalutin’ words like “interconnectedness” usually make me think of lofty endeavors requiring sacrifice. But mentoring is more than potentially helpful to students. It’s deeply rewarding, and it’s downright fun.
Besides, if we can’t bask in interconnectedness on a college campus, there’s not much hope for society at large. And bask we do. As another example, we present a remarkable “academic chorus” of Bellarmine professors writing about Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, curated by Rob Kingsolver. The package is a powerful reminder that we are connected not just to everyone else on Earth, but to the Earth itself. As always, we hope you enjoy this issue. Interconnect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jim Welp ’81 | email@example.com