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January is National Mentoring Month, and throughout the month, WGU Connection will be highlighting stories of WGU mentors and the students they’ve helped along the way.
Interview with Sheena Bell
Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education, Interdisciplinary Studies (K-8)
When Sheena Bell enrolled in Western Governors University’s online Teachers College in June 2008, she had a 3-month-old daughter, a working husband, and a very busy life. Since then, life certainly hasn’t slowed down – her daughter is now 3, and she has two part-time jobs – but she’s found her rhythm and is on track to start her demonstration teaching in the fall and complete her teaching degree in alignment with her original four-year plan, thanks to the support of her mentor, Dr. Lesele Rose (pictured).
When you first enrolled, what did you think about the idea of having a mentor?
My first idea of a mentor was somebody who was going to be kind of like a teacher – responsible for checking on my progress, someone like an academic advisor.
At first, I was along the lines of thinking, "Oh great. This is going to be somebody who’s going to be bugging me all the time." I’m a self-starter. I can also be a procrastinator. I was worried about having someone calling and checking in on me.
Do you remember your first call with Lesele? How did it go?
Lesele became my mentor in May, and I was going through a difficult time academic-wise. I was having a hard time getting things done. My parents had just moved away with the military. I was a stay-at-home mother with a 2-year-old, and I didn’t have much help for babysitting. I have to try to do my homework when she’s down for her nap or at bedtime.
The first phone call Lesele gave me was, "Look. I’ve been in your situation. I’m a mom. I’ve taken care of a grandmother full time. I’ve been in your shoes. I know what you’re going through now."
Why did you choose to share your story with us? What is it about Lesele that you wanted WGU Connection readers to know?
I look at it from the perspective I had when I started at WGU: A mentor is going to be someone who says, “Here’s what you have to do; here’s what you have to get done.” All they were going to do is call and bother you, make sure you’re on task. Lesele has been the complete opposite. She goes above and beyond, calling me not just when she’s supposed to but when I need her to. She makes room in her schedule. She calls on her nights and weekends, when I know she could be spending time with her family, because that’s the best time to reach me.
My grandmother had triple-bypass surgery a few weeks ago, and she called to make sure I was doing OK. She’s like my emotional support. She not only helps me reach my goals – she’s my cheerleader; she’s my advocate; she’s helped me resolve issues with TaskStream. She’s helped me get in touch with graders and course mentors. She goes above and beyond what she’s required to do to make sure that I keep my sanity.
What would you say are Lesele’s most outstanding character traits? How would you describe her to someone?
She’s caring. She’s sympathetic. She’s supportive. She’s a confidant. She’s just an all-around genuine, wonderful person.
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