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Mentorship Offers Supportive Experience for Mentee and Mentor

August, 2020
  • From left: Mentor Kara Wiersma, mentee Kristen Peters and Director of Mentoring Gabe Satner on a recent Zoom discussion.
    From left: Mentor Kara Wiersma, mentee Kristen Peters and Director of Mentoring Gabe Satner on a recent Zoom discussion

QCC student mentee Kristen Peters and her mentor Kara Wiersma just seemed to click when they first met. The pair were matched together in January 2019, shortly after Ms. Peters began at QCC. The two have found not only a good mentor/mentee relationship, they have also established a friendship.

“I found out about the mentoring program during orientation and would recommend this to anyone. As a student, being a mentee is the one of the best things you can do,” Ms. Peters said.

Ms. Wiersma couldn't agree more. As Vice President of Learning and Development at Fidelity Co-Operative Bank in Leominster, she helps employees with their training and development needs. Being a community mentor for QCC was a natural fit for her, partly because of the job she does at the bank, and partly due to the close ties she has to the college. Her mother, Liz Hanlan, works at the college and she is also a 2003 QCC alumna.

“This is a great opportunity to give back to QCC, help people out and I also saw this as a development opportunity for myself,” she said.

The two officially met at the Mentoring Program Kick-off event, where Ms. Peters said at first she was a bit timid.

“It was great to put a ‘face’ with the mentoring program. I’m shy and don’t like new situations but the initial meet and greet was very effective. I said, ‘I’ll just say it all to her,’ and I unloaded,” Ms. Peters said.

Director of Mentoring, Gabe Satner said it’s important for mentors to make the decision to open up to their mentors.

“It makes the ice breaking easier,” he added.

The two women quickly formed a close bond of mutual respect and camaraderie.

Ms. Wiersma said that in the beginning the two began with some goal setting objectives and actions plans.

“This was our starting point and we went from there. It set the stage for the rest of the semester and each meeting we touched base on those goals,” she said.  

“Focus points were a great thing. I had a lot of self-doubt and Kara inspires and encourages me. She gives me an uplift when I have doubt and she let’s me talk about not just school,” Ms. Peters said. “The goals gave me a road map and navigation tool.”

While meeting regularly to discuss goals was important, doing fun activities together also became part of their regular meetings

“We started to do activities together such as a Fab Lab project and it was really cool. We both loved doing an activity outside of our normal meeting,” Ms. Wiersma said.   

“I don’t generally schedule time for fun. It was great thing to do,” Ms. Peters added.

While the transition to meeting remotely was a bit challenging in the beginning, the two have now found a rhythm and found a remote way of meeting that works for them.

“We decided we would just FaceTime since we both had iPhones,” Ms. Wiersma continued.

Both said for the partnership to be productive and worthwhile, it is imperative to keep the lines of communication open and to be respectful of each other’s time.

“I found there were no challenges in this. You have to be open, honest, straightforward and committed. It’s like therapy,” Ms. Peters said, adding that if your mentoring partnership doesn’t work out it’s not the end of the world. “If you don’t connect, you don’t connect. It’s nothing personal.”

Ms. Peters said being a mentee has helped her learn about herself and stressed the importance of being honest with your mentor, as well as yourself.

“I learned it’s OK to reach out to people. I learned it’s OK to not be perfect and it’s OK to be scared and ask for help,” she said.

Ms. Wiersma said being a mentor has helped her to learn more about herself.

“You reflect a lot about your own life,” she said, adding, “Helping others is very rewarding.”

If there are resources out there (such as the mentoring program) that people want to give and it’s not going to cost and it can only help, then do it,” Ms. Peters said. “You’ll benefit and you might even make a new friend.”

To learn how to become a mentee or mentor, visit QCC’s mentoring program.