Reflections From a Past Participant in the SLPKC Graduate Mentoring Program

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Scot A. Siegel-Ortiz

February 25, 2019

If you’d ask any senior student affairs professional in our field today about one of the most important building blocks of a new professional that they did not get early in their careers; one of the most popular answers would most likely be mentoring. Mentoring is not something that you organically benefit from or learn about in your higher education graduate program but rather a connection that comes from a natural relationship or a fostered opportunity. For me, it is an opportunity much like why I chose to make higher education and student affairs my career path- to be able to make an impact on my community and those around me.

It took a little while for me to realize, but the fact that I’ve now been in higher education for over a decade officially disqualifies me from being a new #SAPro. Part of that realization also included that I had experiences and knowledge that I very much wanted to share. I am a big believer of putting the “unwritten” rules or parts of our careers in student affairs out in the open as new professionals just don’t learn all the real life aspects in graduate school programs.

When the opportunity came around to mentor new professionals at my first NASPA conference in March of 2018, I jumped on the opportunity. I was connected to an individual who was graduating that May and had a vastly different experience than I did for my education. Then, I agreed to once again mentor for the NASPA Regional 2 conference in June of 2018 and had the awesome opportunity to mentor two up and coming professionals. They were both similar, yet very different in their backgrounds and career journeys. I met regularly throughout the conferences with my mentees, checking in on their conference experiences as well as setting some time to talk their career goals and aspirations. We planned sessions to attend together and debriefed. I also made a point to get to know them on a personal level and opened up my life and career to them. Relationship management is key to any true and successful mentor/mentee link. While different, both experiences were incredibly positive and I still keep in regular contact with all three individuals up to this day. 

As experienced professionals, one of the best gifts we can give to our newer counterparts is what life is like as an individual in student affairs- but also give them the tools to help take our opinions and apply it to their own situations to make the best choices. Mentorship is also something that does not stop the moment a NASPA conference ends as it needs to be genuine and continuing. It’s also about creating a safe space and an opportunity for colleagues to speak truthfully and honestly. Mentoring is also very much a two-way street of learning.

Having the opportunity to participate in the NASPA mentorship program has been a truly enriching opportunity for me to develop further and give back. We in student affairs often put so much time and energy into our students (and rightfully so), but we as individuals and colleagues tend to be left on the sidelines. Why not take advantage of a chance to impact one of our own? NASPA’s program provides the opportunity- it’s up to us to make good on it! 

To sign up to participate in the SLPKC’s 2019 NASPA Annual Graduate Student Mentoring Program click here.

Scot A. Siegel-Ortiz is a well-rounded higher education professional with over 10 years of dedication to the development and success of students. Born and raised in the Bronx, NYC, Scott is a product of the public school system and a first generation college student. Scott went on to receive his BA in Communications from the College of Mount Saint Vincent and his MA in Higher Education Administration from Stony Brook University. His passion for making an impact knows no boundaries and is constantly striving to reach the next level while encouraging his students to do the same. He currently serves as the Associate Director of Student Life & Engagement at the Columbia University Business School where he focuses on building community through quality student engagement programming and leadership development that focuses on diversity, equity and inclusion.

Scott also loves long walks down the aisles of Target and likes to post lots of pics of his cats on social media.

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