The Plank Center is committed to developing the next generation of leaders and advancing the profession. It is our honor to recognize six leaders whose commitment to mentoring generates a powerhouse of influence and accelerates success in our profession.
Our question and answer series introduces the 2014 Milestones in Mentoring award recipients.
Meet Jose Rivera.
Joining the Communication Studies Department at California State University, San Bernardino, as an adjunct instructor in January 2012, Jose Rivera quickly established himself as a strong instructor, building a rapport with students, and as a willing mentor.
Jose, a first-generation college student, overcame many obstacles to get where he is today. He credits his parents as his first mentors, who taught him the value of hard work. Although lacking help with the college process, he enrolled at California State University, San Bernardino, where he had no trouble finding mentors in the Communication Studies Department. Those mentors are now his colleagues, and they continue to guide him through his professional career.
Early on, Jose saw a chance to pay it forward by becoming a mentor for his students, not only with the college process, but also with the professional world. Jose says, “Having someone to help understand the college process and to share professional guidance is what motivates me as a mentor.”
When asked to describe his role as a mentor, Jose said it is to “paint a picture of the professional world for students.” He wants his students to understand and experience what the world has to offer. He has helped many students with developing professional networks to applying for internships. His advice for mentees is to “Analyze yourself and find where you want to be. Envision where you want to go and let your mentor help finish the painting.”
Several of Jose’s students have secured top internships. One student, in particular, has interned three semesters with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. “Seeing someone’s world open up is the most rewarding experience,” Jose says, adding “Mentors should help close the gap and build bridges for their mentees, but in order to do so, one must take the time to mentor.”
Anyone can be successful and the best way to be successful is by sharing advice. Jose hopes his students will continue to pay it forward. “The best way to thank me is to share my advice with others,” he says.
Mentoring can have many benefits, but challenges do exist. Jose says, “Talented students are being lost because they lack the presence of a mentor,” adding, “In order to move forward as a country, we, as professors and mentors, need to help students navigate the college system and professional world.” To help solve this problem, he hopes to develop and implement a mentoring program within his department. It’s another way Jose continues to “paint the picture” for his students.