Lending a helping hand — the power of a mentor

Having a mentor during college can be one of the most valuable resources you have.

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By: Amy Phillips, Alumni Engagement Coordinator

rofessor Helford was my School of Communication advisor and my media writing and reporting professor during my undergraduate coursework. While I thoroughly enjoyed Professor Helford’s teaching style, it was his calm and confident demeanor and his interest to individually guide students as the next generation of professionals in the field that really resonated with me.

At the time, I was seeking any type of guidance outside of my family and friend network — someone who didn’t know my story or what was expected of me. Rather, I was in need a support system from someone who could provide unbiased guidance along my academic path, help focus my career pursuits and challenge me to think beyond the present (not at all a challenge for a mentor of a 20 something, right?).

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Professor Helford is someone who makes personal investments in his students, outside of the classroom, and that was the beginning of our journey.

I spent many hours in Professor Helford’s office, asking questions about classes, careers and furthering my education. Our earliest discussions focused mostly on my educational pursuits, but overtime evolved into conversations of a more personal nature. I always appreciated his insights and valued his passion for working in higher education as this was a career option I was considering.

Our relationship continued to grow as he influenced me to take advantage of on-campus opportunities (such as graduate school) and build upon the foundation of my Lumberjack family. I valued his insights about always challenging myself with the unknown and loved learning how to make Flagstaff my own.

Fast forward 12-years, a handful of career changes and growth in both of our families, and he is still committed to our relationship! Now I suppose it might be easier to maintain this relationship as we both live and work in the same city, but Professor Helford’s initiative to catch-up and re-charge our enthusiasm for what we do is clockwork.

His text alerts for our changing of the season coffee breaks will forever bring a smile to my face.

Regardless of what life experiences I face, I will forever feel inspired by Professor Helford and will continue to seek his guidance and support to be a better, stronger Lumberjack.

Fun fact: Paul Helford writes facinating screenplays and runs the weekly classic film series at NAU.

Interested in establishing a mentor relationship?

We’ve got you covered👇

  1. Keep communications open- be up-front and let you mentor know what your goals are and what you hope to take away from the relationship.
  2. Maintain contact- be polite and courteous. Keep up with communication and ask questions.
  3. Actively participate- interested in their profession? Get a behind the scenes look at ask if you can observe your mentor’s practice.
  4. Be creative- Offer ideas on what activities and exercises you can do together.
  5. Be consistent- The more reliable you are, the more you will be trusted.
  6. Stay positive- Remember that your mentor is offering constructive feedback that will positively impact your future!

Whether you’re looking for peer or professional staff support, NAU offers mentoring programs to help you build upon your foundation as a Lumberjack in and out of the classroom!

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It’s always a great day to be a Lumberjack! Join the conversation and share your #NAU story.

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