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Mentorship: The Bond That Goes Beyond Academics

Updated: Aug 10, 2023

“It is through relationships that we learn other possible ways of living our lives.”

Shortly after H. Yumi Kim began her Assistant Professorship in the History Department at the Krieger School, tragedy struck. Eight people were killed in the 2021 Atlanta spa mass shooting, six of whom were females of Asian descent. Rather than process her grief solo, Kim decided connection was the only way to effectively heal. So, she sought out her former mentor and close friend, Erin Chung, and together they created the Critical Responses to Anti-Asian Violence initiative.

This is an example of the importance of mentorship and what mentorship actually is – a mutually supportive, near-familial bond that supports both an individual’s professional and personal life.

Many of us tend to think of mentor-mentee relationships as strictly professional and question, “Are mentors important?” But mentor-mentee relationships go far beyond academia. In fact, mentorships have such a powerful effect on people at a personal level that “family trees” have been created to document mentor-mentee lineages! (Check out the The Philosophy Tree site, where you can look up the mentor-mentee relationships of famous philosophers.)

One of NJIN’s goals is to give students these mentorship relationships. We’ve heard from numerous middle and high school students that they do not feel their teachers have the time or desire to give them the support they need in their education journey. One study revealed that over half of America’s students feel their teachers do not care about them personally.

If a student feels personally unimportant to the person educating them, their desire to learn and their ability to face challenges will naturally atrophy. It is crucial that educators not only support students, but let them know that this is relationship is mutually beneficial – the best mentors not only serve as examples, but actively learn from and take to heart what their mentees teach them.

To celebrate these important mentor-mentee relationships, the Arts & Sciences Magazine at the Johns Hopkins Krieger School recently published a piece highlighting 10 mentor-mentee relationships at their school and how those relationships have changed both people’s lives. We are proud to share this piece at our little online home and hope it inspires parents and students to seek out these truly life-changing relationships. Remember: none of us get where we want to go alone!

Erin Chung (Mentor) & H. Yumi Kim (Mentee)

“I saw her not so much as my mentee, but as an invaluable colleague and friend, and someone with whom I could be honest about the struggles that I was going through” - Chung

Thomas Kempa (Mentor), Marta Śliwa (Mentee), Sachi Hilliard (Mentee’s Mentee)

“Tom always finds a positive, and I have picked up that mindset and approach to problem solving. I’ve also learned that even the most successful individuals face challenges, and going forward in my career, I don’t have to be totally perfect or tied up with a bow to succeed.”

Bernadette Wegenstein (Mentor) & Lauren Mushro (Mentee)

“Lauren was interested in everything. She’s capable of learning everything and every language, and she reminded me of myself.”

Louis Maccini (Mentor) & Chuck Clarvit (Mentee)

“There was always this need to improve upon what you were doing; don’t say you’re done. I carry that in life.”

Homayra Ziad (Mentor) & Lubna Azmi (Mentee)

“You pull me into my mentorship by your very being, as a person who is raring to go shine your light.”



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