Why be a Mentor?

I never envisioned myself as a mentor, nor have I thought I would ever be one. However,  I have been fortunate enough to be presented with such mentorship opportunities that have surprisingly continued to impact my life. During my first year of graduate studies, I was introduced to five keen undergraduate and high school students who were all eager to get their hands on biomedical research. The so called “the five” were the basis of who I have become today as an academic; little do they know, that they have played a tremendous role in solidifying my aspirations to one day become a teacher.

One often thinks of the significance a mentor can have on a trainee, however we forget how the students themselves can affect the development and growth of the mentor. Keeping an eye on “the five” was by all means no easy task. First, I learned quickly to multitask, to think on my feet, and last but not least, to accept coffee as my food of choice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In all seriousness, I learned how to be patient, to empathize, to compromise, to trust. For me, I feel that these characteristics were important for my growth as an individual and mentor. I also realized the level of commitment and care required to build a strong mentor-student relationship—a relationship based on the highest level of respect and understanding of one another’s strengths and weaknesses. With time, it was through this honest and close bond that we were able to work through obstacles and challenge the status quo.

At the end of the summer, my heart was saddened by the fact that my time with these five remarkable individuals would come to an end. But this was not the case. To this day, I have been honoured to be a part of each individual’s life journey (through all the ups and downs), and,  to be invited to celebrate their many inspirational accomplishments with great pride and joy. I only hope that I have made a difference; what I know for certain, is that they have all invaluably  impacted my life for many years to come.

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