Why Mentor?

As many of you know, we are big fans of supporting the generation of women making their way behind us. If we can form strong connections between the women ahead of us, beside us and behind us, then we form a sticky spiders web of support that can only help us all.

There are many mentoring initiatives that we’ve been involved in – amongst them the Lucy Mentoring program, the ENID Network and more recently the East West Center Changing Faces program in the US and its Next Generation Service Project. As part of this program, Kate spent some time mentoring a wonderful high school student, Taylor McKenzie. So what do these mentoring programs feel like for the students involved. We thought you might like to hear what Taylor had to say:

Taylor McKenzie, High School Student

“Imagine coming up to a fork in the road on a dark night without a map. This is what high school feels like when there are only two more years until real life begins. There has always been this pressure to do what is right, to do what makes your application look the best for colleges. But more and more, there is a different voice. A new voice telling me that there is not only one path in life, that there is also the path you make for yourself.

This is the message that the next generation of women are being told. A lesson coming from the women before us who had to create the life they wanted to be a part of. We are now being told that we can do whatever we want, whether that be traveling, discovering a cure or becoming president, if we are willing to work for it. Never before has there been this amount of support for women to take control of their life and to follow their passions.

Despite this support, my struggle to decide what I want to do with my life has become even more difficult. There is now this pressure to do something incredible, to take advantage of the life that the women before me have already begun to pave. Now everything I do must be monumental, I must not let this opportunity go to waste. For someone like me, who has never really known what she wants to do, this makes my decision more complicated.

What I have begun to realize, however, is nobody intended for this. The women in my life are not disappointed with my lack of a cemented plan, rather, they are comforted by it. This new generation is learning that the best things happen when they are not planned, when things happen serendipitously. This new way of thinking makes me excited for the future, a future that I get to shape one step at a time. The women in my life, brilliant English teachers, innovative musicians, loving mothers and grandmothers, have taught me to always be confident in myself and my knowledge. That these will help me, even when my plans do not. This means that it is okay that I do not have a purpose yet, or that I do not know where I will be in five years. These matter less, as women have more opportunities to discover who we are and how we can best help the world. Yes, there is pressure on my generation to change the world. The thing is, we can rise to this challenge. We have generations of inspiring women to guide us and a global network of ideas that are now open to us. I do not not know where my path will take me, but I know that I will be proud to stand by the generations of women coming before and after me.”