Patti Neiman is the Director of Educational Efficacy and Student Leadership at the University Y. Her experience with secondary education and working with college students has given her critical insight into the role a mentor can play in  a person's life.




How are you a mentor?

In my role as Director at the UY, I mentor Collegiate Allies across all programs. I supervise and work with many student leaders – all of whom contribute to making the UY an AMAZING place to be. I also continue to mentor many former students who attended the U of M during my 25 years working at the University.

What do you value most about being a mentor?

I love to believe in the capacity of others and then to figure out ways to challenge and/or remove societal and self-made barriers so “success” has a clear path. Success, to me, means identifying what you do best, growing it, and utilizing it in your life.

What is the most important quality of being a mentor?

I believe the most important quality is being “real”, not perfect.

Did you have a mentor?

Yes, I have had different mentors at different stages of my life. My Mom and Dad were and always will be my life mentors – they taught me about unconditional love and that our faith was really about investing in others, so I always have. When I worked at the U of M, my mentors were two Professors, Prof Detzner and Skovholt, who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. I wouldn’t be where I am today had they not shined a light on my strengths. I learned a great deal about passion and emotion from Multicultural Relations Instructor LeRoy Gardner, that you should never apologize for feeling deeply.

It may sound odd, but all the students that I worked with over the years, they were my teachers, I absorbed a great deal about culture/community and persistence. More recently I often gravitate toward Martin Luther King’s words and President Obama’s “presence” – their ability to weave ingredients: 1) intelligence 2) diplomacy 3) commitment… they create this amazing vision for me, of the “possibilities” that once seemed impossible. That thought keeps me investing in others and their possibilities.

What have you learned from them?

That mentoring is what I do naturally; it’s who I am and how I be – and what I’m most passionate about in my career/life. I’m thankful for those believed in me so I can believe in others. I guess you can say, “pay it forward”.