Florida State University’s Center for Leadership & Social Change hosts Mentoring Institute

Ramon Alexander

The Center for Leadership & Social Changed hosted its fifth annual Mentoring Institute,

a daylong event where more than 100 mentor and mentor professionals from the Tallahassee area joined together to collaborate on new ideas, discuss challenges, share experiences and strengthen connections between campus and the community.

The institute — themed, “Mentoring and Social Change: Identity, Influence and the Dynamics of Difference” — took place Friday, Dec. 9, in collaboration with the Tallahassee Office of the Mayor and Florida State’s Campus Recreation.

“We hope we were able to shed light on the promise and pitfalls of mentoring in 2016, especially as our mentoring influence relates to the current climate of social awareness, reactivity, and change,” said Steve Mills associate director at the Center for Leadership & Social Change.

Keynote speaker Ramon Alexander, newly elected member of the Florida House of Representatives, spoke about the importance of creating meaningful partnerships with other nonprofits and discussed the struggles faced by those in the youth services industry.

“I know that many of you are in the trenches, and it gets lonely sometimes,” Alexander said. “Sometimes, it can be hard not to second-guess the sacrifices one makes in this work when they fail to help a young person.”

He is also the founder of Distinguished Young Gentleman of America, Inc. and the youngest person ever named to the Top 25 Most Influential People in the Capital City by the Tallahassee Democrat.

Alexander attributed much of his organization’s success to the commitment of meeting students in their own environment and engaging them in fun and meaningful programs. He strongly encouraged other youth service organizations to invest in peer-to-peer engagement.

Attendees included FSU mentors and advisors from the ranks of students, faculty and staff, as well as local mentors and representatives from mentoring agencies such as Grace Mission, Goodwill Goodguides, Boys Town, Capital City Youth Services and Leon County Schools Reading Pals.

Charlotte Rice
Charlotte Rice

“This event is so beneficial in helping teach and prepare mentors for how to best relate and nurture students,” said Charlotte Rice, an education strategies manager for the United Way of the Big Bend. “To be able to speak and share experiences with other mentors really allows for everyone to grow and learn how to relate to their students in the best possible way.”

The institute also featured roundtable discussions and two concurrent sessions with workshops exploring topics such as community mentoring and reducing the barriers to success, negotiating core beliefs in a mentoring relationship and looking at the role of sponsorship over mentorship.

The Center for Leadership and Social Change encourages students to learn, serve and transform through programming that surrounds leadership, service and diversity. The center is a part of the Division of Student Affairs at Florida State. To learn more about the center and for a list of upcoming events, visit thecenter.fsu.edu.