A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you. — Bob Proctor
The man who hired me for my first job in higher education died this week. And I cried. He was more like a dad to me in some ways than he was a boss; but, he was the person who started me in what has become a very happy and productive 35-year career in higher education. I would be remiss if I did not stop to remember and to pay tribute to Dr. Fred J. Alexander. Through him I received not only the beginning of a wonderful career, but a mentor, a friend in his wife, who unfortunately passed from this life much too early, many years ago, and three life-long friends in his son and two daughters.
I was the first woman, at the age of 22, hired to be an admissions advisor/college recruiter for a conservative Christian college. I don’t know what it was that Fred saw in me that made him select me over the competition. Actually, I’ve always been a little bit shy and not particularly out-going, especially back then. Maybe that was not the characteristic he was looking for. I never asked him. I never knew why he chose that year, 1980, to hire a woman instead of a man. I never asked him that either. I am just glad he chose me. It made all the difference in my career and in my life.
There were a couple of times over the past few years that, through Facebook, I made sure to thank him for the start he gave me. I’m so glad I did. He meant very much to me and I just wanted him to know it. I didn’t want him to go to his grave before hearing it from me what a huge difference he’d made in my life. Sometimes I wait too late to thank someone for what they’ve done for me or to tell them how much they mean to me. This is one time that I didn’t. I’m glad about it.
I worked at Harding University for six years and made many good friends through my job. Some were fellow employees, some were students who worked with us, others were prospective students who later became friends, and still others were families out in the communities and states where I recruited. I dare say I came to know hundreds, if not thousands, of people that I would not have known otherwise. Many of them I communicate with still today.
I developed a lot of skills, made a few mistakes, and learned what I did and didn’t want to do for and with the rest of my life. It was the perfect first career job for me. I owe it all to Dr. Alexander’s seeing some ability and talent within me, and helping to bring it out in me.
I pray that Dr. A has met up again with his beautiful wife Claudette. God bless them both with the afterlife they deserve. I love them and thank them for many years of support they gave to me as a surrogate family.
I guess the best thing I can pass along to you in this blog post is to be sure to say thank you to your mentors and to those who you owe a debt of gratitude. Say it to them while they are still living. You will have no regrets.
“We rise by lifting others.” Robert Ingersoll
May you take wings, Dr. A.