Promoting Awareness and Wellness (PAWs)
Ashford University is proud to show you our PAWs. That is, our Promoting Awareness and Wellness initiative! Every month, we'll highlight different causes and opportunities that reflect the values of the University. You'll also learn ways that you can participate or be more involved.
JANUARY 2012 – NATIONAL MENTORING MONTH
The many benefits of mentoring and of being mentored are celebrated during
January, which is National Mentoring Month.
January marks the 11th annual National Mentoring Month, which celebrates those who dedicate their time and effort to making a positive difference in another person’s life through mentoring. The celebration stresses the importance of mentor relationships, and celebrates the positive impact that mentorship can have on an individual. During the month of January, a number of organizations including the Harvard Mentoring Project, MENTOR, and the Corporation for National and Community Service, urge us to get involved and invest in the future by becoming a mentor.
Countless young people in our country would benefit from having a caring adult mentor in their lives. Though many people link mentors with positive impacts on academic performance, the effects of mentorship are more extensive than one might guess. Effective mentoring programs can result in better school attendance, positive student attitudes, and a reduced likelihood of initiating drug and alcohol use.
Yet still more benefits remain. A recent study conducted for Donna O’Hara’s 2011 book “Educational Psychology in Practice,” explored the effects mentoring had on emotional literacy, which is the ability to understand emotions, empathize with others, and effectively express feelings. Results showed that peer mentoring had a positive impact on the emotional literacy of the young people in the study – and those who showed improvement previously demonstrated low to average levels of emotional literacy before being mentored. Not only did mentoring positively affect the participant’s emotional literacy, there was also a significant decrease in these students’ perceived conduct problems.
In addition to being an effective support mechanism for youth, the power of mentoring relationships is also being utilized in today’s corporate world to develop company leaders and reduce training costs. Corporate and professional mentoring has been proven to effectively improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace by providing employees a stronger sense of connection to their peers and the organization. Many universities are also using mentoring programs to assist new faculty members and graduate students as they begin their careers.
Mentoring is about learning from those who have come before us in order to improve upon all that we do as people and professionals. Ruth Whitman, a well-known 20th century poet and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote in her book “Becoming a Poet”:
In every art beginners must start with models of those who have practiced
the same art before them. And it is not only a matter of looking at the
drawings, paintings, musical compositions, and poems that have been
and are being created; it is a matter of being drawn into the individual
work of art, of realizing that it has been made by a real human being, and
trying to discover the secret of its creation (1982).
Photo at right: Choosing the right path isn’t always easy, but having the guidance of a mentor can make all the difference.
National Mentoring Month encourages individuals to join a mentoring organization, but formal mentorship is not the only way to positively impact lives. Research shows that informal mentors can also have a profound impact. Just spending time with and setting a positive example for another can greatly affect a mentee’s growth. One study showed that informal mentors positively impacted high school and college graduation rates and work ethic while reducing behavior problems, heightening self-esteem and life satisfaction, and promoting higher levels of physical activity.
Mentoring may take place in a variety of social settings, each with its own unique benefits. The two listed below are just a few examples listed on www.mentoring.org of where people can benefit from the mentoring experience:
In the community:
- Community-based mentoring can give people the opportunity to develop a deeper mentoring relationship through more genuine social interactions.
- This type of mentoring offers people a chance to interact in a number of socially significant environments; activities can include going to the movies, going to a park, or visiting a museum.
- Other activities that coincide with community-based mentoring include tutoring; career exploration; life skills development; game-playing; and going to sports, entertainment, or cultural events.
- This form of mentoring gives people the chance to explore, among other things, their academic potential.
- While tutoring is certainly a big part of the mentoring process in schools, other activities such as sports and a number of hobbies and interests can be explored and encouraged in this setting. This type of mentorship often allows the mentor an entire school year to build and enhance their relationship with their mentee.?
The benefits of mentoring are numerous. Even spending just a few hours a week mentoring can make a world of difference. If you haven’t ever mentored before, give it a try. You might be surprised by how much you can help – and, if you are being or have been mentored, don’t forget to thank your mentor this month!
Stars like Quincy Jones urge others to become a mentor.
To join a mentorship program please visit the National Mentoring Partnership website.
ASHFORD UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS SPOTLIGHT - CEDRIC LENOXBachelor of Arts in Social Science, w/ Education concentration*, 2011
"Society may make predictions, but only I can determine what I can or cannot do."
Cedric Lenox, 27, of Citrus Springs, Florida is living proof that determination can produce extraordinary results. “When I was younger, I was labeled an ‘at-risk’ child because I grew up in a single-parent home, I was the tenth child, and I struggled academically in school. I had a school psychologist tell me I would never graduate from college because of my challenges. I let those words and many other labels stick with me throughout my adult life.”
Fortunately for Cedric, there was one teacher who recognized the damage of such labels. “Mrs. Wisdhal inspired me to do my best. She told me to not allow those labels to stick with me.” With Mrs. Wisdhal’s encouragement, Cedric enrolled in community college after high school, but dropped out after two years. “I knew I shouldn’t, but I still believed the labels.”
Cedric spent the next five years in the professional world - he worked in the school system, in camp services, in juvenile correction, and, most recently, as a residential substance abuse counselor for adolescents. Like many adults, Cedric soon realized that in order to progress in his career, he would have to return to college. “The doors were a challenge to open without my degree.”
In April 2008, Cedric spoke with Ashford University Enrollment Advisor Aimee Rogers, who helped him enroll in the Bachelor of Arts in Social Science with Education concentration online degree program.
Cedric’s decision to pursue higher education was met with enthusiasm and support from his family. “My mom had always instilled in me that I needed a college education because she had to work hard labor to take care of us kids. Some of my siblings are going back to college, as well - one of my baby sisters is working on her Master’s degree in Leadership Education, my middle sister is working on her Bachelor of Arts in Criminology, and my brother is pursuing his Bachelor of Arts in Human Services.”
In December 2010, Cedric took another step toward his goal of opening a school for at-risk youth. He moved from Florida to South Carolina to accept a position as a field instructor at Camp Long, a year-round camp for at-risk youth sponsored by the Department of Juvenile Justice. “I am helping the teen boys understand that they still have a future.” Cedric has also had the opportunity to do some public speaking. “I told eighth-graders about my story - how I struggled in school and had very low self-esteem. I told them to dream crazy dreams and to never give up in life.”
In 2011, Cedric became the first male in his family to hold a college degree. “I hope to become a teacher so I can work with troubled youth; eventually, I want to open up my own school for at-risk youth.” Cedric also plans to pursue a graduate degree in social work and counseling. In addition to working with adolescents in a school setting, Cedric aims to become a motivational speaker like his heroes Marva Collins and Ron Clark. Cedric took the first step to accomplishing that goal when his article, “Say Yes to Your Dreams,” appeared in the online publication IN Teen Magazine. In the article, Cedric discusses the reality of drug use among adolescents and encourages young people to pursue their dreams of success.
“I encourage everyone to get an education, no matter what your age, disability, or background. People will tell you it cannot be done, but all it takes is imagination, a dream, and a plan. There will be obstacles. There will be mistakes. But with hard work and beliefs, there are no limits!”
*This degree is now called the Bachelor of Arts in Education Studies.
CDC survey finds that 1 in 5 U.S. high school students have abused prescription drugs. (2010). Retrieved on December 2, 2011 from:
Child depression statistics. (2008). Retrieved on December 2, 2011 from http://www.childhooddepression.us/articles6.html
Child poverty rates increased during the Great Recession. (2009). Retrieved on December 2, 2011 from http://www.ncsl.org/?tabid=18557
Choice Literacy. (2011). Favorite mentoring quotes. Retrieved on December 7, 2011 from http://www.choiceliteracy.com/public/289print.cfm
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O’Hara, D. (2011). The impact of peer mentoring on pupils’ emotional literacy competencies. Educational Psychology in Practice, Vol 27(3),
Sep, 2011. pp. 271-291.
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with young people. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 10, 211-223.
Pro Mentoring Inc. (2010). Searching for Future Leaders in your Organization? Retrieved on December 7, 2011 from
Pro Mentoring Inc. (2009). Professional Mentoring – A Tool for Workplace Diversity. Retrieved on December 7, 2011 from
Quincy Jones video. (n.d.). Retrieved on December 8, 2011 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=679F6nlcAkg
Tracy, M. (2006). Faculty mentoring faculty: Universities increasingly offer mentoring programs that link new faculty with more experienced
colleagues. Retrieved on December 7, 2011 from http://www.apa.org/monitor/jan06/faculty.aspx
Whitman, R. (1982). Becoming a poet. Boston, MA: The Writer, Inc.