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The mentor connection

Whether you’re a seasoned expert or an up-and-coming professional, tapping into University of Phoenix’s half-million-strong alumni network can yield great rewards.

As UOPX alumni, you have the power to transform the lives of others by sharing what you have learned along the way. The University of Phoenix Alumni Association Mentor Program provides the perfect opportunity to help students and alumni on the road to meaningful—and successful—professional lives.

“I called upon my experience as an adult learner, and we worked, talked and revised before she presented.” 	    —Mentor, Delbert (Dusty) Spear, Jr.
“University of Phoenix is committed to supporting our students and alumni in their professional pursuits,” explains Alanna Vitucci, with the University of Phoenix Alumni Association. “Our Alumni Association Mentor Program provides the opportunity for our alumni and students to help each other by sharing their real-world expertise, which ultimately benefits everyone.”At the end of 2010, more than 4,300 alumni were signed up to become mentors, with more than 5,200 students and alumni seeking their professional guidance. Once a mentor is matched with a mentee, the two begin communicating at mutually convenient times to work toward a set of goals they establish together. “Mentors provide support and encouragement to their mentees and help them determine the right path for their career aspirations,” says Vitucci. “Mentors are also able to guide their mentees through any professional challenges they may face.”

Mentors provide their matches with tried-and-true approaches to networking, interviewing and résumé writing, to name a few things. “Mentors also can support student mentees through their academic journeys,” adds Vitucci.

In 2011, the Alumni Association plans to grow the Mentor Program to reach even more up-and-coming and seasoned professionals, as well as introduce career workshops to make an even greater impact on participants of the program.Here are just a few successful mentor-mentee matches.

From unemployment to dream job

Delbert (Dusty) Spear, Jr.
Master of Business Administration (MBA) ’09
Adjunct Faculty and Distance Education Technician, Ivy Tech Community College
Louisville, Kentucky

Sonya Joseph
Bachelor of Science in Business with a Concentration in Management (BSB/M) ’09
Student: pursuing Master of Business Administration (MBA)
Call Center Trainer, Sysco Corp.
Houston, Texas

Their story
When Sonya found herself unexpectedly unemployed, her mentoring relationship with Dusty took on new meaning. When Dusty found out about Joseph’s job loss, “I knew some compassion was required,” he says. Sonya leaned on Dusty for emotional support while he reminded her that there was life outside of unemployment. When Sonya landed a big job interview, he was there to help guide her through the entire process since she hadn’t been on an interview in several years.

Dusty’s take
“Sonya nailed the first interview. However, for the second one, she needed to make a presentation on adult learning. I called upon my experience as an adult learner, and we worked, talked and revised before she presented. I am proud to say that she landed that job, and I was never happier! She has blessed me with the confidence that despite a tough situation, we can achieve a solution when we work together.”

Sonya’s take
“Dusty would say to me, ‘Until you get the offer, your job is to convince employers that you are right for the position.’ I give him kudos for helping me land my dream job by making me believe in myself. I had the skills and background for the job, but he gave me the extra confidence to help me seal the deal.”

The Alumni Association Mentor Program receives an average of 250 mentor requests each week.

Real estate connection

Cindy Hill
Master of Business Administration (MBA) ’08
Vice President of Facilities Management, Jones Lang LaSalle
Mason, Ohio

Samantha Anderson
Bachelor of Science in Management (BSM) ’10
Assistant Property Manager, ProLogis
Atlanta, Georgia

Their story
Cindy has been mentoring on her own for years and jumped at the chance to help students and alumni through the University’s official mentoring program. A few months ago, Cindy and Samantha were paired as mentor and mentee because they both work in the real estate industry. So far, they have established career goals for Samantha, set their priorities and created an action plan. With Cindy’s help, Samantha already has begun to identify professional industry associations to join so she can expand her professional network. She also is implementing ideas at her place of business that Cindy shared from her on-the-job experience. Because their mentoring relationship is ongoing, Samantha and Cindy continue to work together to ensure they are staying on track to reach their goals.

Cindy’s take
“Every time I offer valuable advice to Samantha based on my skills and experience, I end up building my own confidence and self-esteem as well—a win-win!”

Samantha’s take
“Cindy has been extremely helpful in assisting me with my aspirations, which will provide me with a competitive edge in our dynamic industry.”

Staying on task

Claudia Dresser
Master of Arts in Education/Adult Education and Training
(MAED/AET) ’10
Literacy Coordinator, Kauai Community School for Adults
Kalaheo, Hawaii

Gwendolyn Palmer
Student: pursuing an Associate of Arts in Human Services Management (AAHSM)
Currently seeking employment
Madera, California

Their story
When Gwendolyn was matched with Claudia, she feared her issues were so big that Claudia would reconsider being her mentor. “I had many personal and physical problems that interfered with my academic progress,” explains Gwendolyn. “However, Claudia was up for the challenge and was excited to dive in.” One of Gwendolyn’s biggest obstacles was her tendency to procrastinate. Claudia, a teacher, was well-equipped to help Gwendolyn create a schedule to keep her on track with her studies. “Now I have weekly goals and a proven system that works effectively. I also have time to enjoy the weekend without the added pressure of completing assignments.”

Claudia’s take
“My connection with Gwen has allowed me to fulfill my personal needs as a teacher,” she says. “Through mentoring, I have honed my decision-making skills and have reinforced my ability to solve problems quickly based on experience, logic and intuition.”

Gwendolyn’s take
“This has been a life-changing experience for me,” she says. “In the beginning [of my degree program], I felt all alone and overwhelmed about starting school again so late in life. I needed direction and guidance to help pull me through. I recommend this program to everyone—it could be the deciding factor between failure and success.”

Open for discussion

Rachelle Muller
Master of Business Administration with a Concentration in Accounting (MBA/ACC) ’10
Owner, RAM Bookkeeping Services
Valparaiso, Indiana

Stephanie Kelley-Boatwright
Student: pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Business with a Concentration in Accounting (BSB/ACC)
Currently seeking employment
Charleston, South Carolina

Their story
Rachelle had never thought of herself as mentor material. “I was always kind of a passive person and never wanted to be in charge,” she says, “but over the last 10 years, I have come to realize that I can lead.” Case in point: her pairing with Stephanie. “It has given me a chance to see just how well I can help someone with my knowledge and expertise,” Rachelle says. The two take pride in their open and honest relationship where they can discuss the real-life challenges of juggling school, career and family.

Rachelle’s take
“Stephanie knows that she can ask me anything. We not only talk about school, but also about personal issues and how she can better herself in the accounting function.”

Stephanie’s take
“My mentoring relationship with Rachelle has encouraged accountability in order to reach the ultimate goal of earning my degree. Knowing that I can do anything is important, but seeing someone other than a relative care about it really counts.”

“My connection with Jennifer has helped me realize how important it is just to be there for students who are unsure of how to proceed in school.” 	    —Mentee, Jennifer Darnell

Motivation to persevere

Sandra E. Holmes
Bachelor of Science in Business Management (BSB/M) ’09
Student: pursuing a Master of Management/Human Resources Management (MM/HRM)
Payroll Specialist, Eastern Shipbuilding Group
Panama City, Florida

Jennifer Darnell
Student: pursuing Bachelor of Science in Business with a concentration in Human Resource Management
Administrative Assistant, Children’s Hospital Central California
Madera, California

Their story
Sandra was driven to become a mentor when she saw fellow classmates struggle during her bachelor’s degree program. As soon as she graduated, she signed up for the University of Phoenix Alumni Association Mentoring Program. Jennifer is her second mentee, and the two connect at least once a month to help Jennifer navigate any career challenges she is facing. “Sometimes mentees don’t need a solution,” stresses Sandra. “They just need an ear. Through advice that I have offered, Jennifer has been able to make decisions that she felt were difficult.”

Sandra’s take
“My connection with Jennifer has helped me realize how important it is just to be there for students who are unsure of how to proceed in school. I have known for some time that I want to teach at the post-secondary level, and this mentoring connection has helped me know I am on the right path.”

Jennifer’s take
“I would definitely recommend the mentoring program to other students and alumni. Sandra has guided me through some confusing times when I returned to college. Without her, I might have been so overwhelmed that I would have given up.”

Be the one who makes a difference
You have the power to help someone transform their career and their life. It’s easy. Just join the University of Phoenix Alumni Association Mentor Program, and you can share your professional experiences with an up-and-coming student or alumni. We’ll help you find the perfect fit for you and your mentee. Here’s how to make the connection.

  1. Determine your available time. Mentors can commit to a one-time conversation, weekly contact or monthly meetings.
  2. Choose your preferred method of communication with your mentee. You can meet face-to-face, communicate via email or speak on the telephone.
  3. Complete the online mentor interest form. It only takes a few minutes to fill out this brief form that provides the Alumni Association with the information they need to match you with the right student for your experience.
  4. Wait for your student or alumni match. Matches are made based on areas of expertise and specific needs. The number of students and alumni requesting a mentor varies at any given time, so it may take several weeks before you are paired with a match.
  5. Review your mentoring toolkit. You will receive this after you are matched with a student. This toolkit provides tips on how to get to know your mentee, how to develop a personalized mentoring agreement and how to set and formalize your mentoring goals.
  6. Enjoy the opportunity to lend a helping hand to someone at such an exciting time in their lives.

For more information, visit and click “Get Involved.”

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