Mentorship is a two-way street and offers so much more to mentors than simply feeling good about helping others. In the best of cases mentors find in their students a kindred spirit whose values, self-worth and energy connect with their own. It’s not just about wisdom flowing from the mentor to the mentee, it’s about having fun, joking around, slinging ideas back and forth, and sharing the greatest gift we have to give, our time and presence.
Daniel Wallace is a diversity and inclusion manager at GM and a mentor in our One-on-One Virtual Mentoring program. This past school year, he mentored Mario Orozco who is completing his junior year at Cass Technical High School in Detroit. In speaking with Daniel, it was instantly apparent why this mentor/mentee relationship was working. Vulnerability and having the courage to be open to another human being and express your truth or feelings at any given moment is key to the connection between a mentor and mentee. And that is who Daniel is. Honest, direct, and self-reflective are all part of his daily dialogue. He has embraced this experience as a mentor by leaning in and giving freely.
“We all face challenges as we go through our life journey,” said Daniel “We question our decisions and look for direction from the examples of our predecessors. There is a point in time when we gain the ability to reflect on these experiences and begin to provide others with advice.”
Daniel and Mario met twice in a classroom setting before the program went virtual due to the pandemic. Our new virtual mentoring framework called for mentors and mentees to check in every week to discuss topics received via email. Daniel soon found that virtual mentoring meant more flexibility for their schedules and opportunities to connect. Their dialogue became more frequent, and their conversations more personal. With both being self-proclaimed foodies, many conversations were about great local restaurants they want to try when the pandemic ends or their favorite ethnic dishes to prepare.
“Mario has a strong cultural identity, but he has room to grow outside of that. ‘Think big. Work toward bigger’ is a common thread of our discussion” said Daniel. “He is inquisitive and talented, very creative, and he loves to draw. We have been working on a life path that he can execute. We are both hard-working people who need intention for every action.”
Mario has a busy family with four siblings and an entrepreneurial father. He is interested in psychology and exploring how the mind works and defines his vision of success as being happy and debt free. Since meeting Daniel, he feels optimistic about what lies ahead.
“He really listens to me, and then we set goals to keep me focused. It gives me purpose,” says Mario. “Listening to his life adventures and business accomplishments energize me – maybe I’ll even grow up to be a little like him.”
Mario is fortunate to have the support of his family and an attentive mentor, but this relationship has sparked Daniel too.
“This experience taught me that mentoring offers positive outcomes for all participants in the conversation; in this case, not just for Mario, but for me as well. Together, we made an active step in a positive direction toward our future successes,” says Daniel. “I gained a stronger sense of how to craft my philanthropic future and have an impact on a larger scale. And by learning the story of my path, Mario can see a light at the end of the tunnel that expanded his vision of possibilities.”
Our Workforce Prep program provides a safe space to share, reflect and grow, gaining wisdom from those with more experience and passion from the next generation. We are recruiting virtual mentors, like Daniel, for the 2021-22 school year. Virtual mentoring is safe, fun, and impactful. Apply today!