After completing the first year of my doctoral program, I believe I need to make myself a t-shirt that states “I survived my 1st year of my PhD.” But beyond that I have recently come to the realization of how mentorship is all around us. Upon acceptance into my program, I was assigned to a faculty mentor who is also serving as the chair of my dissertation committee. I immensely see the importance of her mentorship in creating my planned program and during the dissertation process. Just think of if you had to embark upon uncharted territory without anyone to confer with. This would be quite the fete; however, quite manageable with one’s mentorship.
During the Spring semester, I was assigned to provide individual supervision to a school counselor-in-training placed at a middle school. As the weeks went on, I found our supervisory relationship continually growing stronger. Sometimes we discussed her clinical skills and what aspects she thought she was successful at, as well as identifying areas for continued improvement. Other times we discussed what she observed by her hosting school counselor and reflected upon what she might have done differently in the situation. Yet, other times, we addressed issues of self-care and career planning. As the final weeks of the semester approached, I began to feel a bit saddened by the fact that she would soon be moving on. However, to my surprise, in the final week, she asked me if I would continue to be her supervisor during the Summer session.
Also during the Spring semester, I met a fellow student who has lead me to mentoring opportunities with faculty outside of the counselor education department. Despite the fact that I entered my program with a somewhat firm grasp of what I would like to research for my dissertation, it has inevitably changed. Recently, my mind has shifted towards focusing on leadership development among counselors. After a few conversations, this student told me that I should visit his department. In fact, he was right and I have now enrolled or plan to enroll in courses that focus on leadership development, interpersonal leadership, system change, and organizational behavior. Quickly, I have found myself in social situations with both students and faculty in the leadership department. And to continue my much needed mentorship, I have begun to explore the potential of an Associate professor in the leadership department to serve as a dissertation committee member.
Lastly, as recent as last week, I have begun to interface with a student who is at the top of her game. When I think of this student, words such as “excellence” and “commitment” come to mind. Through our many conversations, I have found myself in a mentoring role. Sharing my experience and providing her with support and direction for her future endeavors have already begun to manifest. Our conversations remind me of the importance of mentorship and that such opportunities to give and receive it are all around us.
Sandi Logan is school counselor and currently a doctoral student in the Counselor Education and Supervision program at University of Florida. Prior to pursuing further studies, she worked as an elementary and middle school counselor in Southern California.