By Monica L. Martinez
Senior Vice President, Business Affairs, Comerica Bank
Given that January is National Mentoring month, it seems perfectly fitting to feature a heartwarming story that celebrates the power of mentoring.
I often reflect when the New Year rolls around, and a few years ago, my typical
introspection took a different turn. It began in 2009 when a reporter called to
request my New Year's resolution for a feature article. That phone call inspired a resolution that would make an impact on others as well as on my own life. I decided that being a mentor and a role model to a young person in need would make a genuine difference. That became my resolution for the year and for years to follow.
Both through the Comerica Cares volunteer initiative and beyond, I’ve mentored many students. A few years back, I mentored through Wayne State University’s College to Career (C2C) program. The program paired college students with established professionals with the goal of increasing retention and graduation rates among underrepresented students and first generation college students. The program’s framework combined career mentorship, community-based research and service-learning with professional development and graduate school preparedness. The mentor’s role is to help bridge the gap between the academic environment and the professional world.
Over the duration of the program, I became well acquainted with my mentee. Our sessions consisted of in-depth discussions about life, school, career aspirations and how to best achieve goals. I would often invite my mentee to different networking events to provide her with exposure to other professionals. One of those events opened the door for her to apply for an internship at DTE Energy during her sophomore year. I encouraged her to apply and helped her with her resume to ensure she put her best foot forward. That encouragement and her strong determination landed her the internship, which eventually led to a full time position. She’s since earned her bachelor’s degree and is working on her master’s. Her future certainly looks bright with promise and I am so pleased I have been able to play a role in helping her achieve the start of her dreams.
It warms my heart to see what mentoring can do for a young student, and I wish more people would get involved as mentors. In truth, so much of who we are is, in part, because of the people who are part of our foundation and our own journey. In many ways, we are each where we are today because someone took the time to know us and believe in us.
To learn more on how you can get involved in local mentoring initiatives, visit www.nationalmentoringmonth.org.