Earlier in the month, we featured a guest post by one of our board members. And today we will do it again. I don’t think we can emphasize enough how fortunate we are to have a supportive and involved board of directors. Kim Baxter has been an integral member of the TeamMates Board of Directors and recently was recognized at our Annual Partnership Meeting last July. He has an awesome story to share about one of his mentors.
“Since I have had so many mentors in my life, it is difficult to single out just one. But there is a person who particularly stands out as having a significant impact on my life, even though I got to spend very little time with him.
The summer after my 8th grade year, I was invited by one of my best friends to accompany him and his mother to visit my friend’s older brother in San Diego. We spent about one week visiting his brother Ronnie and his wife. Ronnie was a graduate of Annapolis Naval Academy and was serving as an officer at the naval base on Coronado Island, just off the coast from San Diego. While we were there, Ronnie spent quite a bit of time with me and his younger brother Larry. He even let us try our hand in a flight simulator, which was just about the coolest thing I had ever gotten a chance to do!
In that short week we spent there, I came to regard Ronnie as someone I could look up to, like a big brother. He took a special interest in me and before we left for home, he asked me a question that forever changed my perception of myself. He asked me if I had ever considered applying to the Naval Academy! He told me that he thought I had what it took to be accepted and to eventually become a naval officer like himself. I was shocked to hear this from him! Until that time, my grades had been pretty average and I didn’t think of myself as having the capacity to achieve great things, academically or otherwise. But in a flash, Ronnie made me feel like I truly did have the potential to do things in life that I would have never before imagined. And although I never did end up applying to the Naval Academy, I elevated my goals and expectations for myself. I started getting better grades, headed off to college to earn my undergrad degree at UNL and went on to graduate with honors with my doctorate degree from the Southern California College of Optometry.
And yes, I did have two fine parents who also believed in me and supported me. But I just needed this affirmation from someone else to really make me believe in myself.
What a difference Ronnie made in my life! And it took so little time. All that mattered was that he took an interest in me as a person and made me feel that I had value. And that, I believe, is what mentoring is all about.”