Students at BYU-Idaho are assigned a faculty mentor to edify, inspire and prepare them for meaningful employment opportunities. These mentors minister to individuals and connect students with university resources.
Even though students are assigned a faculty mentor, many are unaware they exist or how to approach them.
Jeremy Slade and John Hibbard are two passionate faculty mentoring advocates on campus who can help students better understand what faculty mentoring is and how to use it.
Jeremy Slade has been a professor at BYU-I since 2008. He received his international MBA in food and agribusiness at Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, England.
Br. Slade can always be found in his office either talking with students or grading assignments.
John Hibbard earned his Ph.D. in agricultural economics from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and began teaching at BYU-I in 2018.
Br. Hibbard is currently the economics department chair and serves alongside Br. Slade in his efforts to mentor students in the economics department.
Responses have been edited for clarity.
Scroll: What is faculty mentoring?
Hibbard: From my perspective, it’s being there. I can remember when I was a student, I had one professor who was there when I had questions or needed things. He was always there for me and it made a lot of difference. It ultimately impacted what I ended up doing and the path I chose, because he was an advocate for me and cleared the way for me to succeed.
Scroll: Why should I care about my faculty mentor?
Slade: I love mentoring students. It’s my favorite thing about working at BYU-Idaho. I wish more students took advantage of the mentoring resources here at BYU-I. Your faculty mentor has networks, resources, and industry knowledge that can help students make informed decisions about their education and future career paths. As a mentor, I know what they’re interested in, their likes and their dislikes, their strengths and their weaknesses, and all those types of things help me encourage those students to succeed.
Scroll: What are some of the greatest benefits for students who participate in faculty mentoring?
Hibbard: Well, one of the greatest blessings I have seen is when the student starts to believe in themselves and (are) able to access the power from Heaven that maybe they didn’t realize they could have.
Slade: I think for a lot of students, I’ve seen them improve their academic performance and their confidence to succeed in a future career. They’re excited about their education or they’re more committed to doing the hard things to achieve their goals. Many students are not familiar with how to navigate college, so it’s a whole new world and sometimes learning how to navigate that world can help you get a better idea of where you’re going with your education, but also how to go through the process and not go down paths that can be detrimental to your success.
Scroll: How does someone start utilizing their faculty mentor?
Hibbard: Just go because it seems to me the biggest obstacle is that many times people don’t come. … I’m guessing from some students’ viewpoint they’ve probably learned a lot outside the classroom with their mentors and their instructors and that’s just from my perspective … So if you never go to your mentors you are missing out on that.
Slade: If somebody reaches out to us and says “Hey I would like to meet with you to talk about careers or talk about my classes,” then most professors are willing to help. I’m personally excited when someone wants to learn more about figuring out a direction. Sometimes you might find a faculty in a situation where they’re busy and it may seem like they don’t want to talk to you, but they actually probably do, at least for me. I definitely want students to come in and feel like they can get some of their questions answered.
Scroll: What do you do if you don’t feel you fit well with your faculty mentor? Is there a process to change your mentor?
Slade: I think you can, but we are all technically mentors here at BYU-Idaho, whether that is an administrator, staff, faculty or even another student. Everyone has an assigned mentor and you should go and get to know them, but don’t be limited to just your assigned mentor. If you have somebody you can go and talk to, go talk to them. Somebody should be able to help or at least direct you to the resources you need.
Scroll: How has being a mentor changed your experience at BYU-I?
Hibbard: When you’re able to work with students more closely and you establish a close relationship, it’s fulfilling. You feel like you can make a difference in their lives and then they become your friend. It then becomes more than just a mentorship.
Scroll: What advice would you give to others to encourage them to mentor one another?
Hibbard: I think sometimes the most powerful mentoring might come because we’re prompted to do something. It’s more proactive mentoring rather than reactive mentoring. What I mean by proactive is you seek somebody out versus waiting to be sought out. So I think probably some of the most profound inspiration comes from seeking to have the Spirit direct you in finding others or even knowing what you should say. I know the Lord blesses us to know what we should do through the Spirit.
Students Riata Chandler, Josie Statham and Jacob Bowers have all used BYU-I’s mentorship program and have found success doing so.
“We build really good friendships with our faculty members. We are their friends and I go to them for life advice,” Chandler said.
Chandler struggled at the dawn of her college career. Once she discovered her professors were there to help her succeed, her learning became more satisfying. Her professors provided opportunities that challenged her and made her grow into the person she is today.
“They’ve always worked with me and have always done what they could to help me and that has really boosted my grades,” Chandler said. “… and honestly my whole morale, my whole personality gets brighter when I am doing better in classes.”
Statham has found success in college by connecting with her mentors. She struggled with confidence at the beginning of her college education, however, once she discovered that she was not alone and that there were people around her who could help, she began to find hope and confidence in her ability to succeed.
“At BYU-I their (professors’) one, main goal is to make sure students know that they can help and that they’re pretty much always available,” Statham said. “The things I’ve learned at school really benefited me, and they are the ones that taught me.”
Bowers began attending BYU-I in 2017, and since he’s made some difficult choices that have cost him time. Bowers consulted with his faculty mentors and they helped him iron out an unadulterated path to finish strong.
Bowers said that he loves his faculty mentors because they have given him opportunities he feels he would not have had if he hadn’t met with them.
“Go meet with your faculty mentor, you’ll never regret it,” Bowers said.
Those who have further questions about faculty mentoring can visit the BYU-I Faculty Mentoring webpage.