The Power of a Mentor: AMHS’s First Annual Mentor Celebration

This past Tuesday, AMHS held its first annual mentor celebration, The Power of a Mentor. Mentors, AMHS seniors, and teachers were invited to attend the gathering, featuring speakers Lauren Adderley, a College of Charleston MAT, Swarthmore Philip Evans Scholar, and AMHS graduate, and William E. Kennard, First and Former US Ambassador to the European Union.

AMHS seniors Matthew Leadem and Peter Sterckx spoke at the event, talking about the impact of mentors on their lives, in particular, their theses. The pair had powerful stories of how this experience has impacted them as both people and as students. Matthew, who studied linguistics, faced a challenge when his mentor suddenly passed away in the middle of his thesis project. This obstacle powered his passion for linguistics and led him to dedicate his thesis to her. Peter, conversely, studied the effects of copper corrosion on the Hunley, which confirmed his desire to work in a science field, whether it be engineering or chemistry. The pair had completely different theses, but had one thing in common, the power of their mentors to impact their lives.

Lauren Adderley is no stranger to the Magnet thesis process, as she is a former AMHS student. She talked about the impact that her first mentor, her grandfather, had on her and the lesson he taught her: to never, ever give up. Ms. Adderley went on to study color consciousness and the history of black Charlestonians with the help of her mentors, Ms. Margaret Dobson of AMHS and Dr. Bernard Powers of the College of Charleston. Ms. Dobson was instrumental in Ms. Adderley’s life, by helping her get into Swarthmore College by introducing her to an admission’s officer in a one-on-one session.

Mr. William E. Kennard, former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, also spoke about how mentors have influenced his career. He shared stories about how many of his mentors, including Ann Richards and Bob Dole, have helped and guided him during tough career decisions. He mentioned how important it is to form connections with mentors because of the advice and assistance they can offer. He went on to talk about how Al Gore and Bill Clinton appointed him to serve as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, and how he presently serves as the director of many companies and serves on Secretary of State, John Kerry’s, Foreign Policy Advisory Board; the guidance of his mentors helped him achieve these incredible career feats. Mr. Kennard concluded by telling the students in the room how important it is to have vision, execution, and passion when finding a career.

The Power of a Mentor proved to be an amazing experience for all involved, from the students to the mentors to the teachers, by providing an opportunity for students to show their gratitude to their mentors and a chance to revel in the true power that a mentor can have on a student’s life.