In this chapter, I will share about my personal journey, highlighting key moments, personal experiences, and relationships encountered at different points along the way. Hindsight provides so many lessons. When recounting my story, I tend to contextualize my experience as a “First.” A First is an individual who was once a first-generation college student, who successfully matriculated through their undergraduate degree programs, and now find themselves navigating life in their respective personal and professional spaces (Russell, 2018). For some, this may be inconsequential; however, for me, it is salient to my faculty identity because it is relevant to many things that I did not know coming into the role. To that end, I will start by referencing what I have considered to be missed opportunities or misuse of resources at the graduate level while being focused on the “here and now” and nonacademic professional pursuits. I will share how outreach to mentors at a significant point in my career contributed to my uncharted entry into higher education, and how I came to realize the currency embedded within mentoring relationships. This narrative will include discussion of “mentoring moments” or what I call the “mentors in my mind,” “the council” (key players and relationships), “jumping in the deep end” (being open to something new, being “in search of” looking to fill the gaps in knowledge through formal mentorship opportunities), and “practicing what I preach” – building the network and using my resources to further my career and to develop students.
Russell, E.R. (2021), "Mentorship Made the Difference: My Journey to an Unexpected Destination", Davis, C.H., Hilton, A., Hamrick, R. and Brooks, F.E. (Ed.) The Beauty and the Burden of Being a Black Professor (Diversity in Higher Education, Vol. 24), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 127-144. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1479-364420210000024012
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