Mentors facilitate professional development in academia. But non-academic mentors are equally important. Here, I acknowledge non-academic mentors and their contribution to my development as a professional and as a person.
Engage in not for profit organizations.
Two organizations jump started my work in non-profits, the University Pastoral Centre and a youth club. I learned the power of community building through youth activism with John Lesondak and taught team building for non-profits with Ivan Humenik. With Ivan and friends, we also had a musical band, JK& band. These activities inspired me to get involved in the community projects for people who use drugs.
Access mentors in voluntary service programs.
Petra a Ivan Sedliacik connected us to the world through the European Voluntary Service, which is a training program of the European Union. My youth exchange training took part in Budapest, Hungary, and a small suburban town called Goddollo with Zsuzsa Szabo. I was trained as European volunteer, improving soft skills and contributing to the common good. Petra and Ivan continued to support me throughout my training. They shared their own experiences from living abroad and being European volunteers.
Be a life-long learner.
A Leonardo Da Vinci Scholarship, which was European Union’s Lifelong Learning Program, took me to Cork city on the south of Ireland. Geoff Dickson mentored me in Cork city’s YMCA. A few miles away, in Ballincolig, Ivan McMahon overlooked my evaluation of youth programs for early school leavers and single moms. Working with his national YMCA staff there made me see the practical application of science in Ireland while doing my part time doctoral degree. I evaluated training programs. We developed program databases and identified best practice approaches for real life problems by searching the literature.
Write outside your comfort zone.
While writing scholarly articles is difficult in itself, one can easily fall asleep in this academic comfort zone. I stepped out of this zone in 2013 when I enrolled in a prompt-based creative writing workshop in Portland, OR, housed by the state’s largest bookstore, the Powell’s books on Burnside street (https://writearound.org/). This is when I began to take my writing interests seriously thanks to our volunteer instructor, Matt Blair. His workshop re-invigorated my passion for writing and taught me the value of daily writing practice.
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