Tonight was our student staff banquet where we celebrated all of the hard work our student employees do throughout the year. It was a nice event and I got to give a speech about my staff I so adore. At the end as things were wrapping up, one of my students lingered with me. We chatted grad school plans and relationships. She paused. And then, with tears in her eyes, she told me about the time I changed her life.
She said she had been miserable and decided that Mines was no longer the right place for her to be. She had decided to transfer out and had an application at another institution. She came in to talk it through with me and I gave her options, told her I supported her, reinforced that the decision was hers. And then I told her she would make a good Peer Mentor if she wanted to try to get involved on campus.
She isn’t just a good Peer Mentor, she is an AMAZING Peer Mentor. She has brought an insight and perspective to the program we never had before. She is spearheading philanthropy, community service & volunteerism for us- something we’ve been wanting to take on but couldn’t quite figure out. And this year she was promoted to Lead Peer Mentor. She belongs here, she thrives, she makes us better.
She told me that being a Peer Mentor changed everything for her. Once she became involved, she found her niche and decided not to transfer. She has been incredibly successful with one of the hardest majors we have on campus and she took on a biomedical minor as well. She will graduate next year and have her pick of grad schools. She told me that conversation we had is something that she will never forget, so she needed to make sure I knew. We both cried.
But here is the thing. I have zero recollection of that conversation. I absolutely believe that it happened. I have no doubt I said those things. But I don’t remember saying them to her. And I was blown away yet again at the magnitude of my role and the impact everyone on campus has on our students. A five minute chat and you have changed someone’s life and given them a memory they will carry forever. It was one of my lollipop moments for sure.
So while that initial conversation did something powerful for her, the fact that she shared it was a gift for me. I will never forget her face, her words, her tears in that moment. It reinforced why I love my job, why I am in the right field, why I need to continue to work at this, why I should treat every student as though their question is important, because to them, IT IS.
I walked out of the banquet lost in my own thoughts. I was so humbled, so moved, I walked to my car in a fog. And then I looked up to see this:
Breathtaking. Another gift. Another reminder of how lucky I am. Another affirmation that I am doing the right thing at the right place at the right time.