The final session of the Student Development Leadership Lunch Series took place at noon on Thursday, April 8th. Students gathered in this webinar to learn about mentorship, mental health, and building connections. The guest speaker, Shylana Roman, attended as a representative of M.E.N.T.O.R., a mentorship organization that develops and networks youth mentors. M.E.N.T.O.R. aims to assist communities of color with navigating white spaces, and to help them discover empowerment; the same reason Roman hosted this discussion for Ospreys.
Roman serves as a program assistant for M.E.N.T.O.R. whilst pursuing her master’s degree in Landscape Architecture. Roman earned her bachelor’s degree in Urban and Environmental Public Policy.
After exploring the audience’s initial idea of mentorship, Roman went on to define it as “a relationship that a community member can form with someone who has more experience”; whether it be a sixth grader guiding a fourth grader or a life coach prepping a CEO. This being so, a mentor could be virtually anyone who has experience and knowledge to share that wishes to do so through an interactive relationship. According to Roman, peer mentors are pivotal for communities of color in navigating the unique challenges that people of nonwhite background face, as they have knowledge to share based on their identity.
In addition to explaining the benefits of mentorship in marginalized communities, Roman shared mental wellness advice regarding burnout and overwork. According to Roman, being in spaces where one’s identity is severely underrepresented can be mentally and physically draining. To combat this, she advised participants to partake in restorative self-care by considering that “we’re humans…we need to talk about how we’re more than a resource, we have limited capacities, and capacity is something that changes every day. Your best one day might be finishing your projects ahead of time, that’s great. Your best the next day might be doing the bare minimum and that is okay.”
Roman elaborated on the empowerment that comes with acts of self-care and how to establish connections with others. She claims that empowerment can be developed through mentorship, and it is inherent to connecting disadvantaged communities. According to Roman, people are more likely to “open up” to someone with similar identities and experiences. By reconnecting communities, more individuals can stand strong against oppressive forces such as white supremacy.
The Office of Student Development’s upcoming events and programs can be found on their page, here.
For information on peer mentorship and Roman’s work, click here.