Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s parents came to the United States from Puerto Rico. The first Hispanic and the third female on the Supreme Court with her confirmation in 2009, Sotomayor was born in the Bronx, grew up in a public housing project, and was raised by her mother after her father’s death when Sonia was 9.
Sotomayor’s mother worked six days a week to care for her family, and Justice Sotomayor lists her mother as being one of her greatest inspirations. Sotomayor had this to say about mentors, “A role model in the flesh provides more than inspiration; his or her very existence is confirmation of possibilities one may have every reason to doubt, saying, “Yes, someone like me can do this.”
As Sotomayor’s mother modeled love, hard work, and diligence for young Sonia and her brother, stories of people overcoming adversity often include a loving man or woman who stepped into a problematic situation and offered wisdom and direction. I’m sure you can think of a man or woman (and if you’re lucky, you have many) who stands out as having been pivotal because Mentors Really Do Matter.
As an adult, I consciously look for mentors. I consider friends and acquaintances and reflect on those who are doing “it” well (whatever the “it” might be). I look for mentors in particular seasons:
When I’m attempting something new - When Franklin and I married, we consciously set out to build a strong, healthy foundation for our marriage and finances. We looked to couples who had the “it” we hoped to emulate and spent time with those couples. We listened, with a teachable spirit, as they shared their experience. We gained so much insight from these “mentors”.
When I need to make traction in a certain area in my life - When I reflect on those I learned the most from in my teaching career, it’s often those who had to use a bit of “tough love” with me. I will forever be grateful for the Carolyn Howards and Pat Overbys of my life who stopped me in my prideful tracks and explicitly dealt with rough edges in my character that needed some smoothing-out.
When I’m floundering and frustrated with something – Franklin has spent many hours with a young 18 year old the last several weeks. This young man has been generous with his talent, graciously teaching his methods and approach to editing audio tracks online. The older we get, the more we realize that 1) we really have very little “figured out” about life and 2) “mentors” can be found in unexpected people.
When I want to get a little taste of something - Emma, our 12 year old daughter, would like to work with animals as an adult. We’re grateful to a local veterinarian, Dr. Bartlett, who allowed Emma into her clinic once a week this Fall, providing Emma some hands-on-experience.
I mentioned Emma and I want to explicitly encourage mentorship of children. Many children in single-parent, migrant, apathetic, and poverty-stricken homes do not have an adult who’s willing to invest in their young lives with time and attention… Be a hero and mentor a child.
Mentors enrich our lives as they share their passions with us and broaden our horizons. Most people are honored when asked to “mentor” (particularly when they know their time will be respected) and enjoy sharing something they are passionate about.
How have you been mentored or provided mentorship? How has mentoring (whether you’ve been a mentor or a mentee) enriched your life? Share your ideas! Join the conversation by replying at the top of this post.
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For more from Marea, check out Me and Thee Studios’ faith based leveled readers for 1st-2nd graders at http://www.meandtheestudios.com/early-reader-collection.html.