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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.
By Dana Jobe
Bachelor of Arts in Science, Biological Science (5-12)
Candis Shupe (pictured) has been my mentor since I enrolled at WGU. When I started at WGU, I was unemployed, circumstances that caused me to take a look at my future plans in the first place and ultimately spurred my enrollment at WGU.
Because I was unemployed, I had a lot of time on my hands at that time. Candis encouraged me to take advantage of that extra time and helped me through the first month of orienting to an online education. About seven months after enrolling at WGU, I began working part time at a private junior college, and Candis’ guidance continues to be invaluable.
She has gotten to know me (and my family) through our many weekly calls. Not only that, but she has allowed me a window into her world, including life happenings, past experiences, and an ear to listen when I needed that.
She grieved with me as I mourned the passing of my grandfather. She joined in my jubilation as I celebrated success in my classroom – especially success with students who were clearly struggling, students whose success we were able to share in together. Candis’ insight, direction, and life experiences have been integral not only to my success but to my students’ success as well.
I have never felt alone in this journey, even though I am on the West Coast, so many miles away. The hat of cheerleader, motivator, and comrade are all worn by my mentor as she helps keep me moving in the right direction with WGU. There have been times (not just days, but weeks) when I have lacked either the time or motivation to work on my online studies. My fears of facing my mentor with the less-than-agreed-upon completions were unsubstantiated as I have always been met with listening ears, non-judgmental feedback, and the understanding that "life happens."
At the end of each meeting, I have always felt inspired to move on, be it in baby steps or huge milestones.
Since my goal is to teach in a high school classroom, Candis has shared some personal experiences with me from her prior training that have enlightened me both in the classroom and rearing my own two teen-age sons and preteen daughter. One particular gem I would like to share (that she shared with me) is this advice: When working with teen-agers, the most important thing we can do to impact their life is to LISTEN. There are things we as adults want to do to teach these young adults, to point them in the right direction, to solve their problems, but the No. 1 positive influence reported in a survey is for someone to listen. I have leaned on that advice in the classroom as well as at home.
The personal struggles of a wife, mom, and employee are a common thread for many WGU students. Because she is also those things, I believe Candis is an amazing fit for her role as a mentor at WGU. I feel like if I were the only student attending, she would still be by my side to cheer me on.
My goal of getting my bachelor’s degree is now within reach. I may even pursue my master’s through WGU because of this amazing journey I have been on and the great experience I have had.
There are many more stories I could share, but suffice it to say Candis is a tremendous resource to WGU and to her students. It may be the flower that does the growing, but without the care of the nurturer, it may wither and not grow to its full potential.
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