Women’s Mentoring Program

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Beginning in Fall 2012, the W&M Women’s Mentoring Program is a Grassroots effort from a group of faculty and staff, with the purpose to pair women in mentoring relationships to foster professional and personal support. After three full years of running the program, the facilitators have learned how to best position themselves in order to gain the maximum efficiency for both parties. While the program relies on each pair to plan their own course with some set guidelines, there are also a couple of group events throughout the semester that the pairs are encouraged to attend.

Women who are interested in serving in the mentoring world are matched one-to-one with a student. This year, the program is targeting to facilitate at least 50 matches, and provide a mentoring experience to every student that wants one. Once mentors and protégées are paired, there is a kick-off event to facilitate the introductions. An important driver of the program is the mentor-protégé agreement form in which the pair creates a shared set of expectations. In order to gain the most out of the experience, protégés are encouraged to meet their mentors every 2-3 weeks.

To learn more about the program, I spoke with Anne Arsenal, who has worked behind the scenes since the program’s development in 2012. This year, she too will act as a mentor and is excited to dig deeper and own the role as a mentor. “Sometimes we are reluctant to put ourselves out there, but owning that and supporting somebody else in navigating their future is so important. I am hoping that with my time and opportunities at William and Mary I have something personally valuable to share that will help students learn how things work,” said Arsenal.

Georgia Garney, a 2015 graduate at William and Mary, summarized her experience as a great opportunity to build her own safe space on campus where she could go to a woman that had previously been in her shoes, talk to her about life and ask any questions about the post grad world.

“So I really enjoyed being a part of the program,” said Garney. “My mentor had recently graduated from grad school at William and Mary so it was great having a person who had recently gone through grad school applications and grad school life in general to help guide me. I also enjoyed how talking with her gave me the opportunity to see another side of campus life. My mentor worked in the office of diversity on campus and that was such a hot topic on campus last year that I found having conversations with her about the administrative side of the issue to be very insightful.”

The Women’s Mentoring program was created to develop a more intentional reflection on the female experience at William and Mary as well as create another network connecting students and faculty and increasing the support system on campus. Because this program is completely voluntary, everyone involved has chosen to be a part of this enriching experience, and the mentors go into this with the purpose of sharing their experiences and guiding their protégé.

If you are interested in participating in the Women’s Mentoring Program, you can find more information at http://www.wm.edu/sites/womensmentoring/proteges/index.php or sign up at http://forms.wm.edu/22202 by September 15th.