Students say ‘thanks’ to their Furman mentors
In January, to observe National Mentoring Month, Furman asked students to share words of thanks to those who have helped guide them through their time here. Dozens of students responded, and their reflections prove that mentoring is as much an integral part of Furman’s culture as the Bell Tower and Furman Lake, said Melanie Armstrong ’94, mentoring coordinator.
“Mentoring and advising is a key component of The Furman Advantage,” Armstrong said. “Mentors assist students in exploring their interests, discovering their strengths and reflecting upon experiences during their four-year journeys.”
Armstrong cites the 2022 Gallup survey, which revealed that 80% of Furman employee respondents – 99% of the faculty – reported regularly having conversations with students about career planning, advising, social support, well-being and financial concerns.
“Students find their mentors in many ways on campus, whether it is in the classroom, co-curricular experiences, research or extracurricular activities,” said Armstrong.
Several students share their stories below. For more information on finding or becoming a mentor, visit Furman’s mentoring page.
Katherine McCann ’23, biology and Spanish major
Mentor: Angélica Lozano-Alonso, a professor of Spanish
“Dr. Lozano-Alonso has taught me about Latin American language and culture in the classroom and about being the kind of person who values and fights for the culture and rights of others. Dr. Lozano-Alonso has opened my eyes to the richness of the Spanish language and cultures inextricaby entwined with the language. She has shown me how I can use the ability to speak a language and the understanding of associated cultural practices to close the gap in inequality of dreaming for Latin American and LatinX individuals in my circles of influence both now and as I continue on in my career in medicine. She has been one of my biggest supporters on campus and someone I know I can trust to connect me with resources, listen to and discuss my questions and concerns, and push me toward my best self.”
Haley Shadburn ’24, individualized curriculum program – public policy studies major
Mentor: Brad Harmon, assistant dean for the first-year and second-year experience
“I have learned an extensive amount of skills and information about conducting regulatory research for developing programs on campus. I have also learned team and partnership skills through working with Dr. Harmon, which has been an invaluable experience.”
Samantha Beeson ’24, communication studies major
Mentor: Liz Seman, chief of staff, liaison to the Board of Trustees
“Mrs. Liz has taught me the importance of balance. She has lived a full career in both politics and nonprofit work while still maintaining a tight-knit family. She inspires me to work harder and ask bigger questions. Mrs. Liz is never afraid to speak her mind, even if it isn’t popular. The truest test of integrity comes when you’re in a room full of people who believe the opposite and you stand firm in your convictions. Mrs. Liz is the perfect mentor for me, and I am so grateful Furman’s Pathways programs brought us together.”
Anna Richardson ’26, history major
Mentor: Lt. Col. Sarah Whitten, a professor of military science
“She believes in me even when I don’t believe in myself. She holds me to high standards and doesn’t let me fail. She pushes me both physically and mentally, while supporting me in every way that she possibly can. She has changed my outlook on life both academically and physically. I’m not sure what I would do without her guidance.”
Kyria Santa ’24, health sciences major
Mentor: Darren Hick, an assistant professor of philosophy
“I learned critical thinking and how to ‘why?’ and ‘how?’ in regards to my or others’ beliefs. This frame of thinking has covered all aspects of my life and has helped me write not only philosophy papers but all papers I write for my other classes. I’ve learned more about how to write well from him than in any other writing course I’ve had so far. Plus, he’s funny.”
Botamina Sorial ’24, health sciences major
Mentor: Rolyn Rollins, program coordinator, Cothran Center for Vocational Reflection
“I’ve learned how to approach conflict in an efficient and validating manner. She has also taught me how to be intentional with my reflectional time and be more introspective. She has created a safe space for me to discover myself.”