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Why I Choose To Mentor

Why I Mentor by Kirk Huntsman

“Be a mentor to a child who desperately needs your attention and leadership.”

That was one of the many poignant calls to action issued by Civil Rights icon James Meredith in The Washington Post.

Meredith was shot in 1966 during his one-man Walk Against Fear while protesting the University of Mississippi’s ban on black students and was the first black student to graduate from the institution. For Meredith’s 2012 memoir, A Mission from God, Meredith partnered with William Doyle who went on to become a 2015-2016 Fulbright Scholar.

Writing for The Washington Post this week, Meredith (with co-writing from Doyle) offers a new take on “dark age” of American public education.

The bleak time, says Meredith, is marked by our “destroying the future of our republic.” He points out “misguided” attempts to reform the system that is, effectively wasting money and not helping the very students who it should be designed to help.

Most importantly, Meredith says that it’s time for Americans to work together “to strive to make the best possible education available to every single child in America.” And the work doesn’t just belong to teachers and the public education system itself, he says.

That’s where a mentor comes in.

In order for all people—and not just children—to succeed they need to see, touch, hear and interact with success. That means all levels of success, success in the making, success at the top, the ups and downs of success, the ins and outs of success, the trial and error of success, the language of success, the lessons of success, etc.

Meredith writes: “The right to fail is just as important as the right to succeed: children must be encouraged to experiment and to learn from their intellectual mistakes and failures without punishment.”

Teaching young people that they have the right to fail, the right to try, the right to ask—these are just some of the goal son mentorship.

Mentorship doesn’t have to be one size fits all. When you decide to be a mentor, not only do you meet your mentee where he or she is but they meet you where you are.

One of my many joys in life—along with being a devoted husband and father—is being a mentor to young students at my alma mater. When I spend time with young students at my alma the Business School at Texas Lutheran University. Helping the next generation of business professionals reach their goal is deeply satisfying. 

But at the end of the day, it’s not about me.

See, I agree with Meredith who said, “the destiny of America is in our hands.” Mentoring is one of the many small ways we can make a difference.