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working world and somebody to bounce ideas off.


Plenty of volunteers Lee says the ultimate goal is for every


student at Roanoke College to have a chance to have a Maroon Mentor to help them make those connections and discuss those ideas. The mentorship program was limited to business majors when it began two years ago. This academic year, the program was opened to all majors. Last semester, 42 of the college’s roughly 450 sophomores were in the program. There’s been no problem finding


potential mentors, Lee says. Whenever he travels for Roanoke College, graduates offer to mentor students. It sounds like a cliché, Lee admits, but he insists it’s true, “People here really care a lot about each other.” And those mentors rarely have


problems connecting with the students, Lee says. “I think part of it is we are a small school,” he says, “so there are a lot of commonalities, even if there are 10 or 15 years between them.” Coaches and professors tend to stay


at Roanoke College, Lee says, so mentors and students may have had the same classes taught by the same people. Lee says studies and anecdotal


evidence shows many companies are looking for employees who can think on their feet, exercise critical thinking and adjust to changing circumstances. In short, most employers prefer liberal arts graduates. “They realize,” Lee says, “that a


person with a liberal arts degree can take projects and run with them and be flexible.” Even so, Lee says, the education


available to students through Maroon Mentors can develop and amplify one very important lesson some students can’t absorb in a classroom. Mentors who’ve been in the working world know, and may be able to convince students that it’s okay for them to take a chance. It’s okay to fail. Rather than derailing a career, those experiences can be oppor- tunities to learn and grow. “If you have someone mentoring you and guiding you, you feel a little more empowered,” Lee says.


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ates are sometimes so focused and driven they aren’t prepared for the inevitable stumbles waiting in their career path. “I think in today’s world there’s so


much pressure on students.” Lee says. “What are you going to do? What’s that first job’s salary going to be?” Mentors can let them know, “Things will work out. Keep working hard. Keep moving.” Students can learn other important


lessons from their mentors, too. Lee says one reason the program begins with sophomores is so students can get a close


look at what their chosen field is really like. If they’ve picked the wrong path, it’s better for students to learn that early in their academic career rather than the second semester of their senior year. Students and mentors both can


profit from these relationships, but Devlin says the potential benefits extend far beyond that. “I think it’s important if you care about what’s up and coming in the workforce,” he says. “The better we can prepare kids for the job market, the better off our society will be.”


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