I’ve been a huge proponent of mentorship for as long as I can remember. It is important to give and receive mentorship because it is what allows us to learn from others and continue to give back to those around us. I’d have to say that the first time I really learned the value of mentorship was through my fraternity’s big/little program. I know, I bring up my fraternity a lot, but trust me, the purpose of this post is mentorship.
Freshmen and seniors actually…hang out?
So my freshman year, I first joined Bhangra and was immediately around students I looked up to—people I wanted to be like. These students were so accomplished and I wanted to be just like that. As a freshman I was lucky because I had amazing role models. If you’re a freshman, don’t be afraid of older students—they’re there to help. It’s not like in high school where if you were a freshman, you weren’t allowed to talk to seniors. At the University of Rochester, it’s not like that at all. In fact, seniors, my friends and myself included, love meeting and helping younger students.
Bigs and littles
As my freshman year continued on, I joined my fraternity and received a “big brother,” James Wu. I know “big brother” can sound a little cheesy, but he was my mentor. He guided me through difficult circumstances (exam stress, picking classes, etc.) to just being a fun friend to hang out with. To this day, four years later, I still find myself talking to James every week.
As the years continued, I also got the opportunity to become a “big” for two younger fraternity members, Harry Lee and a year later, Josh Wolfgang. Both of these “littles,” as they’re called, are extremely important to me because they’re my chance to be a mentor. I have been a resource for both of my younger friends, whether it was connecting them to a campus resource like the Center for Advising Services, or helping read over a résumé before applying to a summer internship.
The idea was catching
I took this idea of bigs and littles and brought it back to Bhangra, which eventually spread to other dance groups on campus. Now in Bhangra, there are bigs and littles who meet outside regular practice times to get additional help when necessary. I was so excited to have brought this idea of mentorship because I think the one-on-one mentorship experience is really important. It gives people the chance to speak up and share feelings and thoughts that they might otherwise not share in a larger group.
In conclusion, find your mentor and when the time comes, become a mentor for others. It’s an easy way to help others and to give back. Not to mention you can make lifelong friends in the process, just as I have. James’ advice will always be my support mechanism, and I will always value the enthusiasm Harry and Josh give to my advice.
Alap and Joshua