The Importance of a Mentor

-1BY: BRITTANY O’CONNELL

Entering the University of Delaware last year as a freshman I was what most people would describe as a “lost puppy.” I was only ahead of the game in the sense that I knew I was in the right major, Communications, with a few AP credits from classes in high school. I felt a constant worry that I wasn’t taking advantage of every opportunity UD had to offer me, and simply didn’t know where to begin. That all changed the second I met my mentor.

I remember it like it was yesterday. A few organizations on campus were giving presentations to the freshman communications interests. All of the groups and their members sounded promising, but one student in particular stood out to me. She was discussing the benefits of joining PRSSA-UD, and all I could think about was how intelligent she came across. It was like she was light years ahead of me in both experience and professionalism; exactly what I wanted to be by the time I was a senior. Her name, Keri Betters, even sounded like a personal brand on its own. It was then I decided that I wanted to get to know her, to hear about her UD experience, and learn how she got to where she was.

The presentation concluded and I practically ran to the front of the room to introduce myself. I went out on a limb and asked Keri if we could meet over coffee sometime to talk about her achievements and perspectives. I felt extremely creepy. I had never met her before in my life, but that decision to step out of my comfort zone and reach out to her changed everything.

Keri did end up meeting me for lunch, and we talked about everything from classes she took to advice about our shared major. I joined PRSSA-UD and through the club she became my mentor. I met with her routinely, asked tons of questions, and she gave me endless tips and guidance. Somewhere, through all the times she calmed me down and reassured me that I was doing great, we became great friends.

Through Keri and her endless connections and advice, I was inspired and joined other clubs and got opportunities I wouldn’t have even known about if I hadn’t of met her. It broke my heart realizing she was a senior and leaving at the end of the year. At first I thought I would lose my mentor and one of my best friends, but I quickly realized that wouldn’t happen. Finding someone who is basically an older version of yourself- who wants to see you succeed and has a kind soul- is irreplaceable. Mentors will stay in touch as long as you continue to keep the relationship a priority. Even though Keri is off kicking butt in the “real world”, we stay in touch and are always there for each other. We always check to see how the other is doing, and she even came back to UD this year and had me try my first pumpkin spice latte- a true friend.

Overall, I would say reaching out to Keri and forming our friendship was one of my best decisions at college thus far. She has shown me the importance of a mentor: that you don’t have to go through everything alone. I’ve already had a freshman tell me they see me as light years ahead professionally, something that confirms being creepy and asking to connect with someone new is worth it. I cannot wait until the day I can give back and share my new insight with someone else who feels like a “lost puppy.” Thanks for everything Keri, miss you!

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Brittany O’Connell is a sophomore communications interest that is passionate about PR, social media, and art. She is a Social Media Ambassador on her UD-branded Twitter account @BlueHenBrittany, a Social Media and Marketing Intern for Career Services, and the Finance and Fundraising Director for PRSSA-UD. Additionally, she can be found doing makeup for the UD theater group E-52.

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