Explore the Impact of Academic Mentorship
“My Mentor…” posts are an ongoing series of short pieces written by members of the Trilogy community about impactful mentors in their lives. This post is written by Trilogy's Chief Learning Officer, Erika Carson, Ed.S. She's a Curriculum Specialist, UX Technologist, and Instructional Designer. Her experience and expertise drive Trilogy's operations and user support team.
Who was your mentor? How did they have an impact on your life?
When I think about all of the academic and professional experiences I have had, I cannot point to any one person as the “mentor” or the “role model.” What I can say, is that without all of mentoring that I have had throughout my life I would not be who I am or where I am today. Mentoring has been a key component to the personal and academic successes that I have achieved.
I know that my elementary, middle school, and high school teachers challenged and mentored me as a child, kept me on track through family chaos and 2.5 years of chemotherapy for leukemia, and still mentor me today, as I have stayed in touch with many of them.
While at Tufts University, working on my undergraduate degree, I was lucky enough to end up in two classes with Dr. Loannis (Yannis) Miaoulis, Dean of the Engineering School. This guy just knocked my socks off to the point where I switched my major from Economics to Engineering-Psychology. There was something about his energy that always made learning so exciting, and I kept track of his evolution from Dean to Museum President of The Museum of Science, Boston. He always seemed like a smart guy, not only because he was professionally successful, but also because I could see that he was happy and that he loved the work that he was doing. He inspired me to seek out a profession that I was passionate about.
Years later, while I was pursuing a doctorate program, I reached out to Dr. Miaoulis for advice several times, and he always took the time to mentor me – helping me ask myself the right questions. True to what I remembered about him as an undergraduate, he reminded me how important it is to love the work that you do, and that sometimes we need to take a different path than we planned on to reach our goals. He didn’t teach me; he mentored me, and gave me the guidance to make the right choices, and that made all the difference in the world to me.
I know that I don’t have all the answers, and I think that is why I have continued to seek out mentors at all stages of my professional and academic career. The biggest piece of advice I give to people is “Find a mentor” – “find someone you can check in with who has been there before you.” And, so I have also become a mentor as well.