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Giving Back through AU Student-Alumni Mentoring Programs

Alumni Mentor Reception

The School of International Service, the School of Communication, and the University Honors Program offer AU alumni opportunities to pay it forward through mentoring.

As a result of these programs, many students have sustained relationships with their alumni mentors.
Although securing internships or jobs is not the purpose of these mentoring programs, occasionally a student has secured an internship or a job from the opportunity.

“This summer, one student who participated in the Honors Alumni Mentoring Program received two job offers from major television networks,” says Nadeen Makhlouf, director of the University Honors Alumni Mentoring Program. “Both offers came as a result of the ‘career coaching and sound advice’ offered by his mentor, who works as a producer at a flagship Sunday morning news program.”

The SIS Student-Alumni Mentoring Program began in 2009, while the SOC Alumni Mentor Program has been around for 10 years. In consultation with the SOC program and the Honors Alumni Advisory Committee, the University Honors Program began its alumni mentoring program in 2010.

The SIS mentoring program expanded to include incoming and current graduate students this year, and its application and acceptance numbers doubled. The program now has more than 60 student-alumni matches. The SOC program averages 40 matches per year, and the University Honors Programs pairs up to 25 alumni with current Honors students through its mentoring program annually.

“This year, the SOC Alumni Mentor Program will be hosting a welcome orientation for mentors as well as a welcome reception for alumni and mentors,” says Nada Maalouf, director of development for SOC. “The reception will provide alumni participants with the chance to meet their student match in person and start the program year strong. There will also be a networking event held in April as the closing for the program.”

Alumni mentors can shed light on the real world and at the same time learn from their student matches. “I try to help my student mentee with topics not covered in the classroom, that, in hindsight I wish I would have known when I was a student,” says James Middleton, SOC/BA ’84. “I learn a thing or two from my mentees as well.”

Because the SIS program has alumni serving as mentors from around the world, its kick-off celebration will include a computer kiosk area for students to Skype with their alumni matches.  

There are many reasons alumni choose to mentor. “I mentor because D.C. is built on personal relationships and the willingness of the experienced to pass their knowledge and assistance on to those who may follow in their footsteps,” says Katie Kirkpatrick, SIS/MA ’05. “Personal merit and hard work can certainly take you places. But if you can’t network and build on your relationships with people, you could be limiting your potential to advance and learn.”

Liddy Hernandez, SIS/BA ’12, was Kirkpatrick’s student mentee last year. “The most rewarding part of the program was the opportunity to create such a wonderful bond with my mentor,” Hernandez says. “I know that ‘thank you’ is not a sufficient way of expressing my gratitude for all the emails, meetings, coffees, and chats I requested of her, but I would still like to thank my mentor for her time, dedication, and encouragement.”

New AU student-alumni mentoring programs through the Kogod School of Business and our many new alumni affinity groups are planned.

“By participating in a mentoring program, alumni can gain a window into the current student experience,” Maalouf says. “For alumni, mentoring is a way for alumni to share lessons learned—everything from academic planning to career advice—with people who were once in their shoes.”