Forging Futures: New College Mentorship Reception Inspires Connections and Celebrates Lifelong Achievements

New College Mentorship Reception February 21. Overview shot of various mentors and mentees conversing with each other.

Mentors and Mentees conversing at the Faculty Club on February 21 for New College’s annual Career Mentorship Program Reception. Pho

Welcoming mentors, mentees and past mentees, New College hosted its annual Career Mentorship Program Reception at the University of Toronto Faculty Club on February 21, 2024. Dr. Alexandra Guerson, Vice-Principal at New College and host for the evening’s festivities, kicked off the reception by expressing how the College has built a community where students, faculty, staff and alumni can find friends and feel welcome. “One of our central goals is to create opportunities for students that will help them in their academic pursuits, grow their social development and give them a foundation for a successful career,” said Guerson.

The Career Mentorship Program is widely regarded as one of the strongest mentorship programs at the University of Toronto, assisting students for over 30 years in gaining valuable insights into the job market, considering available career options and networking skills through meetups with an alumni mentor. “Through the Mentorship program, students feel empowered to take the next steps toward a fulfilling career,” Guerson shared, “mentorship builds connections and this program helps create long-lasting connections between generations of New College students and alumni.”

The Mentorship Reception is the first opportunity for students to meet their mentors while building connections with other alumni and their peers. Vidia Dhanraj, a member of the New College Alumni Ambassadors group and a program mentor, spoke to the group on how alumni find time in their busy lives to give back to the community and support the next generation of professionals.

“As a mentor, it’s remarkable observing the deep commitment of fellow mentors to the success of this program”, Dhanraj remarked. “We listen to students’ concerns, create growth opportunities and encourage students to push their boundaries to create a foundation for success.” – Vidia Dhanraj

Each year a mentor is recognized for their outstanding contributions to the Mentorship Program. This year, Barry Glaspell, was not only awarded a U of T Arbor Award but also won the Mentorship Award for his contributions to the program since 2012. Two of Barry’s previous mentees, who are now program mentors Milomir Strbac and Vipal Jain, were called on to present the awards at the reception.

Barry Glaspell accepting the Mentorship Award from his previous mentee Vipal Jain.

Barry graduated from New College in 1981 and then completed law school in 1984, but still kept ties with New College. In his speech, Glaspell shared, “I turned 65 last year. You have heard this before but it bears repeating – this short period from when you graduate till you hit 65 speeds by too fast. Carefully reflect on what you are doing, all the time, make immediate changes, enjoy the moment, don’t miss opportunities.” He explains that most of today’s students will have a mentoring role in some form in their futures, “those who mentor you, and those who you will mentor, will play a pivotal role in the choices you make and how you develop. I still call on my mentors for help.”

Barry also reflected on New College’s mentorship program and how it plays a leadership role in supporting the development of mentorship programs across U of T, “it’s an extremely important element to the College’s environment, creating important bonds between past and present students.” He also expresses how the program not only helps mentees, but mentors receive just as much, “we become re-energized, re-connected to the College and its amazing students and alumni.”

“I turned 65 last year. You have heard this before but it bears repeating – this short period from when you graduate till you hit 65 speeds by too fast. Carefully reflect on what you are doing, all the time, make immediate changes, enjoy the moment, don’t miss opportunities.” – Barry Glaspell

He ended his speech with final advice for the mentees, “what I’m saying is that each of you students, when you can, [you] should aspire to become mentors including in this program.”

Emily Huynh sharing her experiences of the New College Career Mentorship Program.

To conclude the formal part of the evening Emily Huynh, former mentee, and Madeline Hatcher, current mentee, shared their experiences. Emily, now a 3rd year Life Sciences student, Emily was initially nervous about entering U of T but was happy to find a program that could guide her on her career path and dream to become a pediatrician. “I was ecstatic when I got the ‘Congratulations email’ that you open and all the confetti comes out,” she shared with the attendees. Emily was paired with Dr. Cheng where she learned that both their parents had immigrated, and they were the first of their families to pursue medicine. “We were both commuters to U of T, and when I described my high school it was the same one that his wife went to, so it is such a small world” Huynh remarked. She explained that she never felt hesitant in asking questions and that Dr. Cheng gave pointers, resources and reassurance to her, “his guidance had been very motivating for my path to medicine,” she said. Emily ended with one last note to the mentors, “I cannot express in words how thankful I am that all of you went out of your way to provide your time and guidance to the current New College students. It truly means so much, so thank you for being here.”

The reception continued well into the evening with both the mentees and mentors leaving with newly founded connections – it was another successful beginning to the program.

The New College Career Mentorship program reflects the diversity and breadth of the College community and how we see first-hand the difference that the dedication our alumni make in shaping the lives of our students.