Kelly Kleier had done well in organic chemistry but by the end of her sophomore year still wasn’t feeling the magical allure of medical school. What, she wondered, would she do with her biology degree after graduation?
She found out only after meeting Bill Roschek Jr., who was assigned as her mentor after she signed up for Xavier’s Mentor Program.
“I had always had it in the back of my head I was going to go to medical school,” says Kleier, who graduated in June. “And I kind of thought by the end of sophomore year, if I made it through organic, that I’d know for sure. But I was like, I still don’t know that I actually want to do this,” she says. “So I was just looking for other options and other people who had been through the same kind of thing and maybe had chosen other paths.”
Roschek, who earned his bachelor’s in chemistry from Xavier in 2000 and later his PhD in chemistry at Vanderbilt University, knew the feeling well.
“Those are the exact same concerns I had coming out of Xavier as well, so it was easy to relate to her in that way,” says Roschek, who is the manager of technology practice at 4iNNO LLC.
Xavier has matched more than 600 mentor-mentee pairs in the last two years. But the program needs more mentors to match with the growing number of students who need to be paired, especially those with non-business majors, says Sarah Brinker-Good, assistant director for mentoring in the Office of Career Development.
“The benefit of having a mentor is having someone to talk to who acts as coach, not as a family member or friend, who can give neutral advice and can speak from at least five years experience in the workforce,” she says. “Mentors can help tell you about the industry or connect you with people and help build a professional network. A mentor is someone you can go to for advice on anything.”
Mentors gain, too, she says. “They say it’s a great way to give back, and it ties into the Jesuit values of service to others and cura personalis. You care about this student, how they do in class and what they do after they graduate.”
Roschek says his life was so enriched by his Xavier experience, including the lifelong friendships he made with swimming teammates, that when he returned to Cincinnati, he was eager to create deeper connections with the University. He knew mentoring was a valuable way to help today’s students, and when he met Kleir, he saw she was having a lot of the same concerns he did when he was her age. So together they developed a plan: She would seek a master’s in Health Services Administration at Xavier starting this fall, and he would help her polish her credentials and prepare for the program’s admission interviews.
Kleier did well in the interview and was admitted to the program. It was her top choice for a career in the business side of health care, such as hospital administration or health insurance.
“I think Bill and I both have a passion for science but also like the business end of things,” Kleier says. “So I think it worked out well, the path that he’s on, and the path that I chose going to grad school and the MHSA program.”
The Mentor Program has also reaped important dividends for Victoria Mairal-Cruz, a senior this year who is triple-majoring in Spanish, economics and Philosophy, Politics and the Public (PPP). Her mentor, Jose Guerra, encouraged her to attend a recruiting event presented by the National Society of Hispanic MBAs, and she landed an internship last summer at the Kellogg’s factory, gaining valuable corporate experience.
“I just wanted someone who knew more about life than I did to help me figure it out,” Mairal-Cruz says. “I was hoping maybe to get some career direction, and also have someone that I could talk to about both career aspirations and issues that would come up as I entered the working world.”
Guerra and Mairal-Cruz also share several interests—golf, music and their Hispanic heritage—that firmed up their friendship.
Guerra, who earned his executive MBA at Xavier in 2003, finds it rewarding to help people make connections on local and national levels. “It’s really a pleasure to see someone who is fully engaged in the conversation—listening, asking questions,” he says. “So from my perspective the relationship has worked tremendously well.”
Xavier’s mentorship program started in 2003 and has matched more than 2,500 students with mentors.
LEARN MORE ABOUT MENTORING AT THE OFFICE OF CAREER DEVELOPMENT.