Paying it forward through mentorship

This is the second installment of our Mentor Program feature. Read the first in this series and in next month's CFANS Connections we will have our last round of stories.

Student success is determined by far more than test scores or evaluations. A great college education equips students not only with declarative knowledge, but with the skills to pursue and excel in a career they’re passionate about. The CFANS Mentor Program was created to help students prepare for their future careers and discover their professional preferences. Matching about 200 students and professionals yearly, the program provides mentees with networking experience, career insights, and professional growth opportunities.

The Mentor Program is proud to not only foster mentees’ professional growth, but to create long lasting friendships between students and professionals. Mentees have found inspiration in watching their mentors work, while mentors have been motivated by the enthusiasm and excitement of their students. Below you’ll find testimonies from inspiring mentors and mentees who have participated in the program:

Monica and GillianMentor, Monica Rauchwarter

A naturalist at Richardson Nature Center and a dedicated volunteer, Monica Rauchwarter is passionate about mentoring emerging professionals. She has participated in the CFANS mentorship program for five years and has received recognition for her outstanding mentorship.

“My favorite aspect of the mentoring program, other than the students, is the ‘pay it forward’ mentality. Mentors are there because they greatly appreciated and benefited from mentorship of some kind. Students are there to receive this gift...with the understanding that one should build a career by making time for what is important and valuable to them and to their community. I love the enthusiasm and optimism of the students I have worked with. It is fascinating and enlightening to see the world through their eyes as you get to know them,” Rauchwarter says.

Kevin and OliviaMentee, Olivia Veloske

Current CFANS student and Pre-Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering major Olivia Veloske was grateful for the networking experience offered to her through the Mentor Program. After a successful year in the program, Veloske was offered a summer internship at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Biofuels Marketing Department, working with her mentor and Bioenergy Manager Kevin Hennessy ‘09 (M.S. Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering).  

“In the beginning I was not sure what to expect of my mentor or if he would like me or have time for some college freshman - but actually he and I quickly became very close friends. My mentor went above and beyond to present me with the most opportunities, networking and exposure to what it is like to have a career related to Bioproducts Engineering,” Veloske says.

Interested in being part of the Mentor Program? The CFANS Alumni Society is always looking for dedicated professionals who want to participate. In the words of mentor Paul Hugunin, “The CFANS mentor program has changed many lives – mentees and mentors alike. It doesn’t take much time (one to two hours a month) and it isn’t a long term commitment. Give it a try.”

Visit the CFANS Mentor Program website for details on volunteering.