Every Gettysburgian can point to an individual who transformed their outlook—a valued mentor who invested the time and energy necessary to cultivate hidden leadership potential.
Through the Garthwait Leadership Center (GLC), leadership mentoring at Gettysburg College has multiplied—and today, more than 1,500 students and alumni participate in GLC programming annually. For four Gettysburgians, specifically, these leadership mentoring experiences have created a thread that extends beyond their years on campus, and is woven into all those who learn from them.
The catalyst was Jenn Farrell ’02, a clinical project manager at Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc. Eager to give back to her alma mater, Farrell joined the GLC’s Young Alumni Leadership Program (YALP), a mentoring experience for Gettysburg alumni interested in developing their leadership ability.
Within the program, Farrell was paired with fellow Gettysburg alumna Ashley Orr ’10, who applied to be a mentee in hopes of growing as a leader.
Around the same time, a new job opportunity became available for Orr at her organization. The position would be a step up from her current role, but also bring with it greater supervisory responsibilities and more complex problems to solve.
For weeks, she wrestled with the decision to apply.
Do I really have the leadership skills for this position?
Ultimately, she chose not to pursue it.
Throughout YALP, Farrell encouraged Orr to set new goals that were challenging yet realistic. She also helped Orr to define leadership values within her career framework. “Jen taught me to believe in myself, to trust my skills and experience, and to never underestimate my leadership abilities and potential,” said Orr. “I learned to not be afraid and to go after what I want.”
As her YALP experience was ending, Orr was confronted with another promotion opportunity—and her mindset had changed.
I can do this...I am the right person for the job.
She received the promotion.
As a Population Health Supervisor at Chester County Health Department, Orr leverages her leadership experience with Farrell every day to empower her team. Today, their relationship has extended beyond YALP and the two have formed a close friendship.
Meredith Cox '17
Around the same time Orr became involved with YALP, she discovered she would be hosting GLC Leadership Mentor (LM) Meredith Cox ’17 as an extern.
During the summer of 2015, Cox spent a week at the Chester County Health Department. Orr filled her schedule with meetings across the organization and encouraged Cox to ask questions and participate in discussions. Cox was hooked and wanted to come back for more.
The following summer, she returned to complete her health sciences capstone internship with Orr. From the beginning, they established clear expectations for the internship and maintained solid communication throughout the summer, leading to a successful and fulfilling professional experience. No question was too trivial, and each day Cox learned something new.
But the most important lesson she learned was to do what you love and stick to your values, even when others may disagree.
“Orr taught me that while it is often easier to conform to the norms and the expectations of others, in the long run you need to do what you feel and believe is right.”
Cox continues to reflect upon her core values, and seeks activities to carry them out in her own life—most notably, raising up others through dedicated mentorship.
“I wanted to give back,” said Cox, “and the GLC allowed me the opportunity, that’s why I became a leadership mentor.”
Olivia Jarrell '19
Last year, Cox was a senior Leadership Mentor at the GLC, while Olivia Jarrell ’19 was just beginning in her role as an LM. Simultaneously, Jarrell had joined the sorority Alpha Delta Pi, which several Leadership Mentors—including Cox—are members.
“I felt as though I was following her footsteps a bit. Meredith would have insights into the things I was currently experiencing,” said Jarrell.
Bound by their common connections, the two continue to learn from one another—often discussing what it means to be a leader in their personal and academic lives.
“A mentor is not someone who necessarily knows the right answers, but rather who invests their time to ask the right questions,” said Jarrell. “That’s who Meredith is to me.”Posted: Thu, 12 Oct 2017