I am a firm believer in being the change you wish to see in the world. For me, this shows up in many ways. From an early age, I have always had the desire to learn from those who are different or more experienced than me. Luckily, I have had parents who were always willing to teach me things. However, when I looked to the outside world, there were very few people who were willing to carve out that kind of time for me. Therefore, I spent most of my life buried in books, researching, and pushing myself out of my comfort zone to learn about the world. There were, however, a few memorable people in my life that served as my mentors. Although, I am sure this was not to their knowledge.
I fondly remember one of my high school teachers, Mr. Savery, who taught Wildlife Principles. He was one of those teachers who truly cared for the well-being of each and every student he taught. Plus, his class was super cool. We learned basic survival skills, how to respect the wildlife around us, and we even went rappelling off the side of our football stadium! He always encouraged us to be better, and he was the first to inspire me to become a veterinarian.
Needing to learn the ropes of what veterinary medicine was all about, I sought out employment at a local veterinary hospital. I was very fortunate to have met Dr. Tate who hired me as an “animal caretaker” (aka: kennel worker). Dr. Tate had owned and practiced at this clinic for many years. Back when she was in veterinary school, she was the only female in her class. I truly looked up to her, and although our time working together was short and fleeting, she had a tremendous impact on my life. Dr. Tate had a very compassionate heart, and she was always patient and kind to me. She was happy to answer all my questions and encouraged my enthusiasm. Not long after being hired, Dr. Tate retired. It wasn’t until I attended her retirement party that I realized the incredible impact she had made in our community. Countless clients had come to share their stories of how much Dr. Tate’s compassionate care had meant to them throughout the years. I had never had the opportunity to witness so many grateful people gathered in one place for one person. This was the day I decided I would go full steam ahead and attempt to get into veterinary school. I thought of how wonderful it would be to look back on my life and know that I too had made a huge impact on my community by caring for the people and pets in it.
Aside from working with some incredible professors in veterinary school, I have yet to find my next great mentor. Sure, there have been many intelligent people around me, but no one that was willing to take the time and make the effort. The vibe I get in the real world is, “I worked hard to get where I am. Find your own way.” Worse yet, I felt labeled as competition. For this very reason, I feel compelled to change that narrative.
It is also my firm belief, that if we aren’t growing, we’re dying. This is especially true for an overachiever like me. Years into practice, I found myself feeling stuck and wanting more, but with having no one to turn to. I threw myself into learning new skills and attempting to find mentorship. Skills I learned, but mentorship I never found. I believe mentorship to be vital in the workplace for many reasons. One, it will inevitably create a happier and more cohesive work culture. Two, any type of business (whether it be the corporate world, non-profit, the medical profession, etc.) is best suited when knowledge is shared amongst its employees. Now of course there are countless other benefits to mentorship, but I find these to be my top two.
So in my pursuit of being the change I wish to see in the world, I have helped build a women’s professional mentoring program called Vinea and signed up to become a mentor for the Knoxville Leadership Foundation to an incredible girl named Abby. By helping connect other women through mentorship, and discovering my inner child while having fun with Abby, I have been able to lean into this passion of mine. So far, it has been exhilarating and I am hopeful for the future after having met so many like-minded women that desire to help each other. It just took some digging to find you! I hope that eventually, more people will look to their coworker not as competition, but as their colleague. There is enough success to go around.
Dwight: “Michael and I have a very special connection, like an umbilical cord. And the thing is with Ryan is that I don’t want him to trip on it, or get it caught around his neck.” – The Office