This interview features Michael Molinos, a mentor in WGU's College of Business. We’ll learn how a quote has changed the way he thinks about success and how mentoring at WGU has affected his life.
WGU: To start, what is your background? How and when did you decide to become a mentor at WGU?
Michael Molinos: I got my undergraduate degree in business management from Brigham Young University. Prior to WGU, I worked for a market research firm that specializes in data collection (i.e., phone, web and IVR surveys). As a successful account manager, my client portfolio includes small to large companies including fortune 500 firms. Unfortunately, before reaching my 4th year, I got laid-off during the jolliest season of the year. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I went to work and applied to as many job openings I could find knowing confidently that my transferrable skills will benefit my next employer regardless of the industry. Then, a former colleague contacted me, and recommended me to his friend that works at WGU. After a month of job searching, WGU offered me the job and I started on January 26, 2009. Looking back 18 months later, I’m glad that WGU gave me such a wonderful opportunity to be a part of its student mentoring team.
WGU: So since you’ve been at WGU, what have you found to be the advantages of studying at an online university?
Michael Molinos: Aside from not going to school physically, which is true for most online schools, what sets WGU apart is its strong business model: Online, Accelerated, Affordable and Accredited. WGU is also the first institution of higher learning that is competency based. This brilliant idea helps a lot of students graduate, particularly working professionals. While we frequently hear the news about high college drop-out rates in the nation, WGU is actually doing something to address it and I am confident to say that we are succeeding. The one-on-one mentoring model is probably not new but nobody does it better than WGU. WGUs high retention number is living proof to its caring commitment to help students succeed.
WGU: Those are great advantages to point out. What is some memorable advice that you have received in your life with regards to your career and succeeding?
Michael Molinos: One of my favorite quotes of all time was given by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. He said, “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” I heard this about 10 years ago and it connected so strongly that I had to grab a pen and paper to make sure that I didn’t forget it. Today, this energizing quote occupies a prominent display space in my office. Hearing this powerful statement was inspiring but living it was even more. I am a witness to the lasting influence and impact of this profound statement. I am convinced that this quote, if heeded well, provides success not only in our careers but life in general.
WGU: That quote is very powerful! In addition to that, what inspires you on a day to day basis to be the best mentor you can be?
Michael Molinos: The certain knowledge that I can make a difference in my students' lives one day at a time. When a student graduates, the joy doesn’t stop there because it’s only the start of something big and it’s gratifying to know that you were part of making it happen. In addition, one student’s success benefits not only one person but his family and community as well. That’s the big picture we’re creating every time we call students. Talking about career satisfaction and a lasting sense of accomplishment, you can experience both right her at WGU!
WGU: Making a difference in students’ lives seems to serve as inspiration for many mentors. How has mentoring students studying for an online business degree at WGU affected your life?
Michael Molinos: It made me realize that in a virtual world like online school, technology is not enough. Personal human touch like active listening and uttering encouraging words make a great combination in motivating students, especially to those that are struggling. Student mentoring helped me understand that taking online school, while balancing work and family life, is not an easy task and commitment. Therefore, mentor/mentee success requires empathy, patience, accountability and trust, all of which takes time to develop, which is true in all human relations.
WGU: True… going to school is a full-time job! What is your favorite thing about being a mentor?
Michael Molinos: My favorite thing about being a mentor is being able to see struggling students overcome life’s challenges and still succeed through hard work, persistence and dedication. To witness this time and again is a gratifying and motivating experience and a testament to human resiliency. The old adage, “If there’s will, there’s a way,” is an apt description that separates those who succeed from those who don’t. As a mentor, I see myself as a catalyst to student success and that’s a truly rewarding experience to have.
WGU: Are there any online tools or research tips you can give to readers thinking about, or currently, enrolled in an online university?
Michael Molinos: There are lots of online tools that are helpful for online students. One of my favorites is www.khanacademy.org created by Salman Khan, a successful hedge fund professional turned full-time unpaid teacher. For students struggling with math, from basic arithmetic to advance calculus, they have got to check out this cool website. Even Bill Gates uses this website to teach Algebra and more to his 11-year old son. For those questioning the value of college education, Dr. Katharine Hansen’s article provides good and practical answers. Finally, if someone wants to find out which group was hit the hardest by the current recession, and why pursuing higher education is a worthwhile endeavor, this interactive graph will provide a satisfying answer.
We want to thank Michael for taking his time and sharing his insightful thoughts.