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    Mentoring—It's Not Just for Seminarians Anymore

    Everyone from professionals to professors can benefit from a mentor relationship.

    Kathy Furlong

    "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear,'" says Kara Lee Mantinaos, quoting an old proverb. "I knew the Lord brought me to this place, at this time, to prepare me for what he's called me to do."

    "This place" is the Master of Arts in Higher Education Program at Geneva College (in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania), which prepares men and women for college campus vocations.

    As a graduate assistant overseeing Geneva's undergraduate honors program, Mantinaos's responsibilities include developing significant relationships with the students, coordinating special events, informal advising, and serving as a teaching assistant. She says she has benefited immensely from the mentoring relationship that has developed—"quite organically"—with her supervisor, David Guthrie. And she credits his "generosity of spirit" with fostering collaboration beyond that of employer/employee. Guthrie is dean of the faculty and professor of higher education at the college.

    "Our first interactions were very positive. We have similar temperaments, so establishing our communication pattern was a more natural process than in previous mentoring situations I'd experienced," she says. "However, I believe that serendipity is possible because we both come humbly to the table and are willing to be taught by each other … . He is gracious to acknowledge my prior experience and accomplishments, and [he] has always treated me with dignity and absolutely zero pretense. So mutual respect and trust were quickly established."

    As a mentor, Guthrie says he invests in his students with the hope that they will "passionately embrace a vision for, [an] understanding of, and [the] skills to undertake a vitally important effort—in our case, higher education—for a purpose that transcends the mentor or the mentee." Taking the long view, he adds that "the anticipated outcome of the process is that the current and eventual contributions of the one mentored [will] extend far beyond the contributions previously made by the mentor."

    Working with Mantinaos on behalf of the honors program, Guthrie says, requires consideration of myriad issues, including the undergraduates' motivations, engagement and learning styles, academic performance, [and] "faith-shaped learning," as well as program management and evaluation. In doing this work together, he says he benefits "from an opportunity to look closely at the theory and practice of all of these issues, and more, in league with a very eager and extremely able colleague. It's an exhilarating professional experience and one in which the lines between mentor and mentee are blurred, if not largely nonexistent." Personally, Guthrie says the work has been humbling. "Together, we realize the complexities involved with leading effective honors programs, as well as supporting, challenging, and loving the college students who populate the programs."

    Mantinaos is grateful for the significant personal and professional dividends she has gained from being mentored. "Dave's broad perspective and experience are helping me to understand and navigate the lay of the land in our field, which is helping me discern where I want to go with the knowledge I'm gaining in the program. At times, he has impelled me to venture into unfamiliar waters, which has prompted growth and discovery of gifts I wouldn't otherwise have encountered," she says. Currently, Mantinaos is in a process of discernment and is preparing to apply to either a Ph.D. or Ed.D. program.

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