From Mentee to Mentor: It’s Crucial to Have Someone in Your Corner

By Ryan Advincula, Metro EDGE Leadership Council member and UC Davis Assistant Director of Development

My aspirations frequently wander, and I often find myself being pulled in so many directions. Thankfully, there are people who look out for me and keep me in check: family, friends, and mentors. While family and friends bring comfort through similar upbringing, culture, and perspectives to ground me in what I am used to, I have found great value in mentors who give lens to other lives, other futures. This National Mentoring Month, I reflect and give thanks to the people who mentored me and helped me in times of challenge.

I believe the strength in mentorship is in compassion. Rarely are we as kind to ourselves as we are to the people we care about. Like, I am way better at telling someone to stop scratching that mosquito bite than I am at not scratching my own itch. Similarly, mentorship is the opportunity for us to give others in the community the time and attention to commit to short-term problem solving and long-term planning that we often won’t give ourselves.

For mentees, the value is evident: insight from new places, a resource in times of need, a sense of security and self-assuredness, amongst so many other benefits. As a mentor, there is also much to be gained. In guiding others, we apply our wisdom to ourselves more critically. In the same way that the best way to learn a concept is in teaching it to others, mentoring helps us apply our principles to ourselves in unique ways.

I spent most of my life without a mentor and it wasn’t until my first real job that I really understood that other adults could really care about what happens to you if they aren’t your responsibility. I am lucky that my mom drilled me like a dog to fit a certain mold, but for youths with less attentive guardians or with people missing in their lives, it can be so easy to fall into other bad habits. Early youth mentorship is critical in filling this void and fixing this inequity in our community.

This year, I am a mentor for the Fastbreak Mentoring program in collaboration with Mentor California, Improve Your Tomorrow, My Brother’s Keeper, the Sacramento Kings, and the UC Davis Graduate School of Management. This program helps the career growth of primarily young men of color in the Sacramento area and I am intent on drawing on the experience of my mentors to help make an impact. For those with time to be attentive and wisdom to share, there will always be someone who needs it.