HOPE Giving Circle launches mentoring program

HOPE Giving Circle mentoring panelA mentor, even an informal one, can have a transformative impact on someone’s personal and professional life.

The idea was reinforced time and again at a recent panel discussion on the power of mentoring women, an event held recently by the year-old HOPE Giving Circle at Harper College to launch its mentoring program.

“I think one thing a mentor does very well is to help us see our strengths and lift us up through those,” said Dr. Kenya Ayers, vice president and board chair of the Northwest Educational Council for Student Success. “My mentors have helped me to become more confident, they’ve helped me to navigate politics within organizations – not that there are ever politics in organizations – and they’ve helped me prepare for next steps in my professional journey.”

Ayers joined fellow panelists Martha Bell, architect and managing principal at Tilton, Kelly & Bell; Rebecca Darr, CEO at WINGS Program; and Michelé Smith, Associate Provost at Harper College. Luz Canino-Baker, president of both Latinas on the Plaza and LNC Coaching, moderated the discussion.

The Harper College Educational Foundation formed the HOPE (Helping Others through the Power of Education) Giving Circle last year to connect charitable-minded women with a common goal of empowering women to reach their full potential. The program provides financial support, ongoing mentoring and leadership development for female students who are completing their final year at Harper and continuing on to a four-year college.

Second-year Harper student Kayla Karbowski is the group’s inaugural $10,000 scholarship recipient. The aspiring special education teacher attended the panel discussion at the College’s Dining Room and soon will select her own mentor.

“I have never felt so much support and encouragement from this many people, and I am so blessed to be a part of the HOPE Giving Circle,” Karbowski said. “Through my mentor, I hope to gain some more insight into my future and guidance as I prepare to enter the next chapter of my life.”

Each of the panelists reflected on her own experience as a mentor and mentee and discussed ways the relationship can benefit both parties. They offered advice on how to approach a prospective mentor and stressed the importance of clearly defining expectations and needs.

Darr added that the most valuable mentors often come from outside the professional sphere, pointing to her own grandmother. She also highlighted Project Lifeline at WINGS, which links community members as mentors to women who are homeless, victims of domestic violence or utilizing WINGS services.

“All of my mentoring has been informal, and that’s OK,” Darr said. “Those people have helped me become a strong female leader in a way that I never imagined I could be.”

For more information on the HOPE Giving Circle, visit harpercollege.edu/foundation.

Media contact: Kim Pohl, Media Relations Manager, 847.925.6159

Last Updated: 1/30/23