iEducate Delaware: Promoting Mentor Relationships
Starting this Wednesday, we will begin accepting nominations for iEducate Delaware, an initiative to uncover and share the amazing stories of education leaders across the state. In the days leading up to launch we will be posting snapshots of last year’s honorees, and what they’ve been up to since last fall (click here for previous blogs). Rodel invested $2,000 in each of these honorees’ projects to support their work.
Margaret O’Dwyer, one of our inaugural iEducate Delaware honorees, founded the Delaware Youth Leadership Network (DYLN). Michael Markell, a student at The Charter School of Wilmington and part of the first cohort to participate in DYLN, shares:
The DYLN experience is one that is hard to describe. I discovered this when, several weeks ago, I was talking to students at my high school, The Charter School of Wilmington, about joining the program in its second year. I had so much to say – the experience had been amazing – but there was a particular message I wanted to make clear that drove my passion for the program, and one that was perhaps, at the time, too complex for the setting. That message is, in 500 words or less, what I hope to iterate in this blog post. That message is one advocating the mentor relationship – one which I believe was incredibly beneficial to my experience.
While answering questions from these prospective students at the interest meeting, I noticed a trend. Like me, all the students were, unsurprisingly, very ambitious, focused, and driven on their careers, on their lives – half of them had already strategized the next 30 years of their lives, complete with grandiose visions of future success! It occurred to me how I was in the exact same place only one year previous, and yet how I had also changed in that one year span so much.
My mentor relationship was an invaluable one for many reasons. However, there is one reason in particular which I believe to be most crucial, and it is not one someone could learn from a textbook or even some impersonal speaker in front of a classroom. No, the singular portion of the mentor relationship I believe to have been most helpful is not one of knowledge, but one of insight. In a very powerful sense, I believe this program has changed my definition of success from a logical, concrete one into a specifically moral one.
From the minute I sat down with my personal mentor in the program, BioTech Entrepreneur Bryan Tracy, I could tell a lot about him – specifically, why he does what he does. From our conversations over the last several months, I have gained some real insight – almost everybody in our program has the capacity to be a successful person, in whatever field they choose. However, there is something that separates mere economic success from genuine accomplishment – from leadership, from who you are and who you have grown to be. Bryan Tracy, my mentor, is “in it” for the right reasons, and that is something that has led to great personal success in and out of the lab.
From this program, I take something that applies far beyond the confines of high school. Success is holistic; it cannot be measured in the weight of wallet or the heft of your pocket. Instead, let it be measured by the positive impact on the market and the world around you. Instead, let it be measured by how you feel when you crawl into bed at night. Instead, let it be measured not by how far you go, but by how far you bring your community, your family, and your environment up.
Founded in January 2012, the mission of the Delaware Youth Leadership Network is to inspire, motivate and develop young Delawareans to become our leaders for tomorrow. With 27 students from 19 different high schools in New Castle County, we launched our program in August 2012. Our focus is to create an opportunity for high school students in Delaware to see their potential as emerging leaders. The ten month program provides exposure to inspirational speakers and mentors who offer different perspectives of leadership, development of key life skills such as public speaking and communication, and the creation of a network of young leaders across Delaware. The enthusiasm and engagement of the DYLN Scholars in our program clearly speaks to the power of bringing together a diverse group of motivated, inspired students. We look forward to celebrating the graduation of the DYLN Scholars of the Class of 2013 on May 1, 2013.