Alumni provide guidance to students


John Bevington didn’t have a mentor when he was a student at Western.

If he had questions about his career he turned to his professors – many of which hadn’t been in the work force for years.

Laura Suiter wanted to make sure that other Western students wouldn’t have to go through this same situation.

Suiter, coordinator of the Alumni Mentoring Program, helped establish the program in Fall 2000 with the goal of “getting the students involved with the Alumni Association to help with life after college and getting the alumni more involved and connected with the students.”

Bevington received a call from the Alumni Center after his graduation in the spring of 2000. He had been working at his family’s car dealership in Frankfort.

Julie Denton, student coordinator for the Alumni Center, offered Bevington the chance to provide something to current Western student’s that he never had – a mentor. He eagerly accepted.

The mentoring program matched Bevington with Owensboro sophomore Amber Mayfield.

“I think (mentoring) is a good opportunity to network and get advice from someone who has already been through college,” Mayfield said.

The program was designed to bring students and alumni together to help each other, Suiter said. The students get help with resum?s and work experience, receive honest criticism and feedback and find out a little more about the real world, she said.

Alumni get the opportunity to participate in Western functions again, dish out much needed knowledge about their career and have the satisfaction of knowing they’ve helped someone else. Mentors and mentees receive copies of the goals and guidelines at the beginning of the year.

The mentoring program brought most of the mentors and mentees together at Homecoming last year for a reception.

During their first meeting, Bevington and Mayfield sat down together and talked about the many changes that had occurred since Bevington graduated.

They discussed which professors still taught, and discovered they had similar interests. During his time at Western, Bevington helped bring the professional fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi back to Western. Mayfield is a member of a sorority.

Mayfield said conversation between she and Bevington was easy because he was very “laid back.”

“We had a really good conversation about classes,” she said. “He gave me feedback about school and some words of wisdom, like advice on which professors to take. It was very beneficial.”

Mayfield said her mentor suggested she focus on her studies but still get involved with campus organizations.

After the reception, Bevington and Mayfield kept in touch with each other as often as they could via e-mail.

But, Bevington’s job and Mayfield’s responsibilities as president of the Student Alumni Association and as a member of Alpha Omicron Pi sorority left them little time for talking.

Looking back on the experience, Bevington encourages anyone to participate in this program.

“I think a mentor would have to be involved in things and care about what the mentees do,” he said.

Bevington also praised the student coordinator for the mentors she chose.

“The coordinator (Denton) cared about picking the right people who cared about Western’s future,” Bevington said. “It was also great that they picked people who just graduated from Western, not some 45-year-olds who couldn’t relate.”

Bevington also said his involvement with the program had a lot to do with Denton’s persuasion.

Besides persuading people to join the program, Denton helps plan events for the mentors and mentees, such as the Homecoming reception and a spring cookout this year.

“We’re trying to provide an opportunity for the mentors and mentees to meet,” Denton said.

There are some requirements for becoming a mentor or a mentee.

Mentors must have contributed at least $25 to the WKU Alumni Association and provide access to their mentee to get in touch with them. Mentees must be current students at Western and should try to spend time with their mentor as much as possible. Mentors and mentees must keep in contact with each other at least three times throughout the school year.