September 6, 2012 by Melody Porter
This fall, a grassroots committee of women staff, faculty and students are kicking off a pilot project we’re calling WM2: William and Mary Women’s Mentoring. It all began this past February, when Elizabeth Miller and I watched Miss Representation, a screening sponsored by the Student Assembly and facilitated by Kim Green. The movie shows a quick peek into an evening of mentoring for women in Washington DC, and immediately it clicked: We have to do this at William and Mary.
There are a lot of reasons that a mentoring program makes sense at William and Mary, but I’ll start with one: there is wisdom here, and it should be shared. At our last planning meeting, I asked the committee to share their advice for incoming women in these early days on campus, and here is their trove of good advice for you. Take it, savor it and share it with others!
- Don’t feel like you’re the only woman with doubt. Exposing a little bit of vulnerability will bring a lot of support, rather than feeling isolated. (inspired by this post on the blog, joythebaker.com)
- I hope that women who enter campus now are worried less about superficial aspects regarding their appearance and sexuality now than women were 10 or 15 years ago.
- See the opportunities, and have the courage and sense of empowerment and people to ask to figure out how to achieve those opportunities.
- You can disconnect in order to connect. Turn off cell phones to have meaningful conversations. Don’t build a relationship based off of Facebook. Disconnect enough to feel confident walking around campus alone – connect with yourself.
- Feel comfortable enough to challenge some of the ways you thought previously, and allow those challenges to shape who they might become.
- “Promise me you’ll always remember you’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” - Christopher Robin, to Pooh Bear. My hope is that every woman on this campus hears that from someone and is able to internalize it.
- I hope that you will find a group of people who help you to realize that it’s okay to be who you are. Remember the quote: “How you live your days is how you live your life.” Stay focused as you find your niche so you can live good, productive lives.
- Find those niches, and don’t be afraid to look for them, to make mistakes, to try something and fail, to speak in public, make your voice heard, take a risk – that’s where you find out who you are and what motivates you.
- My first year of college was so, so fun – totally full of silliness. I hope that you can take life seriously enough to not take it seriously. Do it with lightness that honors the depth that there is, because the depth of life is that it is really fun, too. Live your life with fullness because that’s all you have!
And, if you’re interested in being a part of the pilot year of WM2, join us for an Evening of Women’s Mentoring, September 19 from 4 to 6:30 pm. We will have a collective of W&M women faculty and staff sharing their expertise on personal and professional empowerment for female students at the College in roundtable discussions. We hope to match many of the attendees of this event to a year-long mentoring pair. For more information and to attend, check out the interest form. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.