Meaningful mentorship at Carolina

January 21, 2024 |

In fall 2023, University Career Services launched a pilot program designed to foster meaningful connections among undergraduate and graduate students to UNC-Chapel Hill alumni. The UCS Mentorship Program, administered through Heels Engage, will build our community by facilitating structured and supportive relationships between students and alumni.  

The program is open to all UNC-Chapel Hill students. Mentors represent alumni across disciplines, backgrounds, and career paths, providing students with a uniquely diverse mentorship experience that will enable career development and strengthen student success. One student participant is Keisha Frederick, a first-year non-traditional transfer student from Raleigh, NC, studying journalism and media in the Hussman School of Media and Journalism. 

Tar Heel Transfer

Frederick, once a full-time underwriter at a mortgage insurance company, decided to return to school when she applied for a job and was denied the position because she didn’t have a degree. She decided to pursue higher education to expand her opportunities. After attending community college as a C-STEP student, Frederick came to Carolina and joined the mentorship program. The program has made her transition much smoother than it would have been otherwise. 

“I might have some bumps in the road, but having someone pointing me in the right direction has been paramount for me,” Frederick said. “Even if I’m lost, at least I’m being pointed in the right way.”  

Class and Career Counsel 

Upon entering the program, Frederick connected with her mentor Chris Hale, a manager at the company where she previously worked. Although Frederick has changed her planned career path since coming to Carolina and now hopes to be a news anchor, having a mentor who provides guidance on communication as a whole has been instrumental. 

“I thought that I was going to be a CEO at the end of all of this, and my life has taken a very different turn. I know that I have a heart to serve people and my mentor is very much like that,” she said.  

Frederick and her mentor meet once a month to discuss how her schooling and personal life are going. Her mentor often provides advice on how to navigate college life and future career plans. 

“To hear a perspective of someone who has already been where you’re going is so helpful,” she said. “He gives me good advice about how to proceed. He has been very helpful in helping me pick classes by thinking about the things I am interested in and the reason I might be interested in them.” 

More than a Mentor 

College can be overwhelming at times, and having a mentor to talk to about those feelings is important, Frederick said. The most valuable piece of advice her mentor has given her has been “don’t quit.” 

“After every one of our meetings, he says ‘stay focused and don’t quit.’ It’s simple but so impactful, and sometimes I hear it in the back of my head telling me to keep going,” Frederick said. 

A Wealth of Wisdom 

Through the mentorship program, Frederick ultimately hopes to gain wisdom that will not only help her on her future path but also help her become a mentor to others later down the line. She wants to gain a wealth of knowledge and experience that she can share with students who are facing the same transition into college as she did. 

“I would like to get enough wisdom to be able to reach back and get someone else. I never want to sit on the things that I know because if I don’t share the information, I’m the only one that knows it,” she said. “I want to get the necessary tools to be able to help someone the way that someone helped me.” 

Learn More 

Mentorship through HeelsEngage: You can find your own mentor through HeelsEngage by logging into the platform with your ONYEN. Click the Connect tab then Community. From there, you can use filters to view UNC-Chapel Hill alumni with your major or who have pursued your desired career path. Students can view the career journey of any professional on the platform through the alumni’s connected LinkedIn profile and interact with other students on the network. 

Getting involved with UCS: Students looking to become involved with UCS events or programs can check out their website. Follow UCS on Instagram @uncucs to stay up to date on upcoming events and opportunities that will help you navigate your career journey. 

— Payton Wilkins

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