By Kathryn Magura
I’ve been thinking a lot about mentors lately. I am fortunate to have had some inspiring people in my life who have helped shape my view of the world. There are people who have come into my life whom I aspire to be more like, and people who have taught me skills that have helped me to become the professional I am today. Some of these people I am fortunate to call a mentor, but how many of them have been women?
As a female working on the technology side of higher education customer service (yes, that is a category, I promise you), the number of female mentors is small, but they are present. Becoming an active member of the #sachat community was one of the best personal and professional decisions I made about a year ago. Not only did this community connect me to a myriad of other student affairs professionals, it helped me see that there are strong women in our field who are working to support each other and help each other grow.
When I sat down to write this post, I had a hard time determining which direction it should go. To be completely honest, the majority of my mentors have been men. As I’ve become more involved with the #sachat community, I have become more connect to women in Student Affairs who are truly inspiring. Also, through some of the various networks available to me like the Women In Student Affairs #WISA group, I have had the wonderful opportunity to learn from some amazing female professionals in this field. As I reflect on the things I have learned, and will continue to learn from this group, I realize I haven’t taken the opportunities to thank these women for the ways they motivate me. I’d like to rectify that now.
One of my female mentors is Mamta Accapadi. @DeanMamta, as she is referred to on Twitter, is the Dean of Student Life at Oregon State University. While I have the pleasure of working at the same institution as Mamta, or work lives rarely bring us together. As we have connected more via Twitter, I feel very blessed to have established a relationship with such an inspirational woman. Mamta cares deeply for everyone she comes into contact with, and that is one reason she excels in what she does. As I have observed Mamta over the last few years, I have seen how she has pioneered the way for finding a work-life balance for her and other women at our university who choose to work and have children. This fall, Mamta is taking a sabbatical from OSU to join Semester at Sea. This move further inspires me, because it shows that you can push yourself beyond your comfort zone professionally, and reap the rewards that follow. I look forward to hearing about this adventure upon her return.
Another female mentor of mine is someone I also have the pleasure of calling my friend. Seeing as how we have not actually met in person, you may think it’s strange to have developed such a strong connection to someone living over 2000 miles away. Well, when I first met Stacy Oliver, or @StacyLOliver as we know her on Twitter, a year or two ago we bonded instantly over a shared passion for sass and snark. Stacy and I related well because we work on the Operations side of on-campus housing. In the time we have been friends, I have learned more from Stacy than I could ever thank her for. Stacy is an eloquent writer who has an amazing ability to build community through words. Stacy has had a challenging summer personally, and has displayed a level of grace and reflection that I find encouraging to anyone dealing with loss. I learn things from Stacy every day, and look forward to actually meeting her in person sometime soon.
So those are two of my mentors. Women who inspire me to be a better woman and Student Affairs professional every day. Who inspires you?