The power of mentoring

Based in Queensland, Denise was one of our inaugural scholarship winners in 2013. Her mentor, Angela O’Sullivan is from Navitas.  The positive relationship they’ve developed is a wonderful example of how powerful the mentoring relationship can be.

When Angela was first approached about being a mentor to a young student in her local community, she seized the opportunity with both hands – she had been looking for a way to give back to her community for some time and mentoring was a perfect platform to do it.

She admits when she first received the scholarship application from Denise however, she was a little overwhelmed. Here was a young woman who had already overcome great adversity and hardship in her life – experiences that are unimaginable to many of us – yet at the same time, she presented as someone very clearly committed and dedicated to her academic studies with definite goals, as well as being a role model to others in the school and wider community. She remembers asking herself, ‘what could I possibly have to offer this young woman?’

Personal doubts aside however, their first mentoring meeting was set and Angela recalls Denise being a stand-out from the outset. ‘Even now’, she says, ‘the more I get to know her, the more I realise just how remarkable she is. Her drive and determination to achieve her dreams is relentless. This young woman will one day go on to achieve great things and let me tell you, you heard it here first!’.

Looking back on how their relationship has developed, Angela says there are several critical factors that in her mind, have contributed to their partnering success – equality, trust, listening, commitment and leadership. In Angela’s words:

  • Equality – our partnership is based on mutual respect and equality. This has been critical factor in stimulating conversation and building trust.
  • Trust – Denise and I opened our discussions based on trust. I let her know from the start, that what she tells me will be held in confidence and for this reason I feel that trust has grown exponentially.
  • Listening – I have learnt to be a better active listener, truly hearing and understanding what Denise is saying. This has been even more challenging in some respects as there are sometimes cultural nuances that I need to be mindful of i.e. listening for what is not being said.
  • Commitment – Denise and I entered into this scholarship program for the long haul, three years in fact. Being available, accountable and committed for that period has helped in solidifying our relationship.
  • Leadership – during the time we have spent together in face-to-face meetings and conversations via email, I have strived to be a trusted advisor, role model, nurturer and challenger.

For Angela the mentoring experience has been everything she thought it would be and more.  ‘I have not only had the privilege of learning a lot about Denise’, she says, ‘but I have also learnt a lot about myself along the way, not least, humility, compassion and gratitude’.

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