To the Unexpected Mentors We've Had

It’s that time of year where everyone gets a little sentimental. All at the same time, some of the people who made Boston College a home to us are all leaving: our mentors, our inspirations, our heroes of social scenes and our personal survival guides: our seniors. From the initial week of classes when they welcomed us with open arms (mostly to coerce us into joining their organization) to these final weeks of fun when we felt at home with them in Iggy or the Mods for one last time, our seniors have developed one of the most unique and powerful relationships with us that we, freshmen will ever have. In a way, we’re filling their shoes; to us, they are the people who have set the standard, to them, we are the ones who are going to rise above it and improve all the work they’ve done.

1. The people writing the listserv emails for your club

As you get the notification for them, you sigh, you roll your eyes and debate whether or not to read it. But the truth is, without them and their emails, your club would not be as active and you would not feel as a part of them as you do. While the listserv-writer may not be the president of your organization, they are just as important. From them you’ve learned what persona your club wants to portray, how you, as an individual, can have your voice be heard, and that if you want things to work out, events to have high attendance, your cause to be donated to—you need to make the first move, be brave and take a risk putting yourself out there. Inevitably, with any cause, you’ll get some sighs, eye rolls and ignored efforts. But when you get discouraged, think of the listservians. They never give up. Weekly, or, depending on your community (Theater Department, I’m looking at you) daily, you hear from them giving their all. It’s inspiring.

2. The unashamedly drunk human at every party (the D-GAP)

The Drunkest Guy At the Party (D-GAP) has been a mentor to you, and you probably don’t even realize it. Here’s why: if they can be careless and enjoy themselves fully, so can you. But they are the extreme, so from their behavior, you learn how to pace yourself, and what is actually acceptable in that environment. Without the D-GAP, there would be no limits. Everyone would either keep drinking without a worry—that mob mentality that if no one’s vomiting yet, no one will ever be vomiting—or everyone would be cautious of anything more than sipping a beer all night and stay in their little middle school dance era chatting circles. Both of these extremes make for an unenjoyable experience. The D-GAP is the unsung hero: he or she shatters the confinements on social norms and breaks people out of their shell (including you, timid freshman); that person sets what type of gathering this “party” is going to be. And, when you enter conversation with this person, they encourage you to do whatever you want to. They believe in you, and their confidence boost can be the last push you need to be spurred into action.

3. The Med School-Bound Bio major in your art class

This girl has been taking seven semesters of chemistry, biology, statistics and all those other torturous, scientific-sounding courses. But now she is in your Acting/Art/Film Studies class as a second-semester senior. Look at her. She is stepping out of her comfort zone and using her last chance at choosing courses to really try something new. She could have done what most do in her position, and just have chosen an “easier” science elective. But instead, as a lesson to all of us to continuously stretch our comfort zones and abilities, she decided to take a risk and try something entirely new. These seniors are some of the best kind because they’re not the grandpa-y type that thinks they’ve seen and done everything BC has to offer. Instead, they have a vitality to them that makes them want to get even more out of their BC career: they make the most of everything, and race to open the door when opportunity knocks.

4. Kathleen, Una and the rest of the friendly Dining Services team members

I don’t think we realize how saintly these men and women are. There are literally thousands of rushing students bombarding them daily, and they still sit perched at their cashiers like angels; calm little orbs amid seas of Patagonia-wearing chaos. They have shown us how to treat others with kindness and respect, despite how tired or exasperated we might be feeling. They also make an effort to learn our names and ask us about our day; an inspiration to us all when it comes to how we should treat our classmates.

Billy Foshay / Gavel Media

Billy Foshay / Gavel Media

5. The professor you adopted as your advisor

Technically, we were all assigned an advisor, and yes, technically, we all met with them and were advised by them. But, the professor who really made an impact on you this year probably wasn’t the one handpicked by the system for you. Instead, we all had that one class that showed us that not all college professors are entirely boring or entirely crazy; the class that made us think that hey, maybe student-teacher bonds are a lot more worthwhile—and less weird—than they’re made out to be. Maybe you never actually met up with him or her to talk academics; maybe it was just a year of quick life talks in the quad—either way, it’s safe to say we’ve all come in contact with one faculty member who really helped us out. Whether it was something as undetectable as them building up our confidence by showing us that what we had to say was worthy of being listened to, or if it was something as personal as them serving as the person you confided in, professors outside of classrooms became mentors that you didn’t see coming.

6. The somewhat random group of seniors or upperclassmen you ended up hanging out with more frequently than people in your own year

If you try and trace the origin, the who contacted who or the meeting point, things are probably a little unclear. Maybe you met one of them at a party, maybe you were a lab partner with one, or maybe you even dated one for a time—either way you somehow became the honorary 7th, 9th or 5th roommate for a group of upperclassmen. Although you being younger very rarely came up, these guys looked out for you and welcomed you in as a sort of mentee, perhaps without anyone realizing it. Sure, you all enjoyed just spending time together, but I bet if you really reflect (#soBC) on your friendship/relationship/whatever you called it, you’ll see that they’ve left more of an impression on your first year than you previously thought. Without them, your weekends would have been a whole lot duller, and—though you might never admit it—all those times they reminisced about their four years at BC, or about people who were here before you even graduated high school, it was nice to see how happy those memories made them, even though all you could do was listen. Seeing them get all sentimental about the “good old days” showed you that all of your fleeting, random moments with friends are valuable, and that one day, when you’re sitting at your own kitchen table in Iggy, you’ll be looking back on them fondly, too.

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