It’s National Mentorship Month! And we truly believe that mentors can make all the difference for kids as they face new challenges – from navigating middle or high school to eventually embarking on a career. That’s why we’re proud to pair every First Tee Scholar with a mentor to help them along their journey.
First Tee – Indiana alumna Becky Jones is a sophomore at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology where she is studying civil engineering. Her professional goal is to address pollution in her home region. “Especially around our area, we have a lot of environmental hazards that I’d like to fix,” she said.
As she works toward her future, Jones said, she knows she has at least one person in her corner: her mentor Dr. Roger May. May is senior technical manager in the Great Lakes region for TruGreen, a First Tee Trustee. Not only has May helped Jones on her academic journey, but “he knows me as a person,” she said.
“Especially as I’m going to college and being in a new environment and working with a lot of different people, he’s given me fantastic advice about things like teamwork, what to do when group members aren’t holding up their weight,” she said.
His guidance was especially helpful during Jones’ internship at a 66-turbine wind farm in Iowa. “I was in a very different environment than I’m used to, and while it was a wonderful experience, it did challenge me in a lot of ways,” she said. “It’s been incredible. I’m lucky First Tee connected me with him.”
May said mentoring Jones has helped him understand the challenges a college student faces in 2023. The pair talk for about one hour each month, and while mentoring isn’t a huge time commitment, it’s a great way to give back, May said.
“I thought back to the time when I was a freshman in college. I could have really used a mentor! This was a golden opportunity to pay it forward with experience and help a young person navigate the ups and downs of the college experience and give them career advice,” he said.
For the relationship to work well, mentors need to be non-judgmental, and mentees must be open about the challenges they’re facing, May said. “When everything clicks you form a trust that helps to keep the relationship and communication progressing,” he said.
As a First Tee scholar, Jones not only receives support from her mentor, but also financial assistance and access to professional development opportunities, including a recent winter workshop that brought together 40 First Tee alumni from across the country. She said First Tee has helped her gain confidence and expand her horizons.
“When you start playing golf as a kid, you’re just out there hitting a ball. You don’t think about all the etiquette you learn,” Jones said. “You learn about systems, being outside, appreciating nature, respecting authority, honesty. There’s just so many values that go throughout your entire life. Now as a Scholar I get to hear from all these phenomenal speakers who are giving me advice on aspects of my career and personal life, and I feel like I’ve grown more as a person in so many ways I can’t even describe.”