I have been fortunate to have had many great mentors in my life, a combination of family members, professors, colleagues and bosses who took the time to provide guidance, give helpful advice and serve as sounding boards for my ideas and, sometimes, my frustrations. Their influence has been a big difference-maker in my professional and personal life.
One of the things I admire about the College of Charleston experience is how this institution prioritizes mentorship. It’s not just a talking point on our campus tour or a buzzword on our website. As president, I have the good fortune to see the impact of mentorships playing out in so many various ways. I see it both inside and outside of the classroom. Our faculty, our coaches and our staff members all share a desire to help others become the best versions of themselves. It sounds cliché, but our campus is truly working to make the world a better place, person by person, both on an individual level and on the greater community level.
The College attracts many current and former executives and community members who have a desire to give back – especially in helping young people define their goals and think of effective strategies to achieve those goals. We have great leadership programs, across disciplines, that incorporate these mentor/mentee interactions, such as the Schottland Scholars in the School of Business; the Global Ambassadors Program in the School of Languages, Cultures, and World Affairs; and the Center for Excellence in Peer Education in the School of Education.
During the spring semester, our Department of Communication in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences celebrated the 20th anniversary of its National Advisory Council, which is composed of top communication executives and public relations professionals from around the country. Its membership is a who’s who of leaders in the communication field. An important part of their volunteer service is the council’s Mentor-Protégé Program, which pairs communication majors with members of the advisory council. Out of that work was born the new Martin Center for Mentorship in Communication, which was officially launched in March 2023.
The center’s namesake – Tom Martin, a retired corporate communications leader – joined the College in 2007 as the first executive-in-residence after serving on the Department of Communication’s National Advisory Council for three years. In his role as executive-in-residence, he teaches undergraduate courses, engages community partnerships and connects students with mentors. This past semester, he took a group of communication students – members of the Martin Scholars – to Atlanta to meet with executives at Delta, Chick-fil-A, Home Depot, Coca-Cola and Warner Media. Throughout his time here, the power of mentorships has been reaffirmed to him repeatedly. Like me, he has been the beneficiary of such mentors in his life.
For so many of our students, programs like the Martin Center for Mentorship in Communication provide a real X factor for their CofC experience. Through mentorships, our students receive a competitive edge in preparing for the next thing: Perhaps it’s graduate school or their first serious job or even starting their own business. Our mentorships complement our curriculum with real-world lessons and contacts – IRL (in real life), as today’s students might say/text. And those meaningful connections and a mentor’s guiding light illuminate many different paths to success.
– President Andrew T. Hsu