Feb. 9, 2024

UCalgary Alum Night shines spotlight on power of mentorship

Chancellor Jon Cornish inspires alumni by sharing impactful knowledge and experiences as both mentor and mentee
Photo of Chancellor Jon Cornish speaking at the Alum Night event at LDL on the University of Calgary campus
Chancellor Jon Cornish speaks at the Jan. 25 Alum Night. Jeanelle Affonso

In celebration of National Mentoring Month, the Last Defence Lounge at the University of Calgary buzzed with excitement as alumni gathered for a special Alum Night event centred around the theme of mentorship and UCalgary Alumni’s digital mentorship and career-connection platform

The highlight of the evening was a captivating talk from Chancellor Jon Cornish, who shared their experiences and insights on the transformative power of mentorship, paying tribute to another impactful individual who once held a chancellor’s position.

Cornish began the Jan. 25 event by taking the audience on a journey through their own life, reflecting on the profound influence of mentors. Drawing inspiration from their time at the University of Kansas, Cornish recalled a pivotal relationship with Bob Hemingway, then-chancellor of that university. Hemingway's wisdom left an indelible mark on Cornish's perspective on life, emphasizing the importance of service to others.

"Life isn't about what you do for yourself, but what you do for others," said Cornish, echoing Hemingway's impactful advice. These words, reminiscent of the teachings imparted by their mother, resonated throughout Cornish’s academic and professional life. They took these lessons to heart and soon after began a journey of broader commitment to community service and making a positive impact on the lives of others.

In line with UCalgary's commitment to fostering an innovative educational environment that prepares students for future challenges, Cornish underscored the enduring impact of Hemingway’s mentorship: "His support, his listening ear, his guidance — that mentorship is what I strive to pay forward today." 

The event also promoted UCalgary Alumni’s Mentor Link, a digital platform facilitating connections between alumni and students through mentorship activities. "Mentorship is an incredible tool," said Cornish, emphasizing the priceless nature of learning from someone who has already navigated the challenges an individual may face.

Networking advice from the chancellor focused on authenticity, encouraging individuals to share their passions, experiences and dreams. Cornish believes genuine connections build bridges and highlighted that networking isn't always about immediate tangible benefits, but can be a meaningful pursuit on its own.

Cornish also emphasized the dynamic exchange of knowledge that occurs in mentor-mentee relationships. "Mentees can bring you fresh ideas and innovative perspectives, fostering professional growth for both parties," Cornish said, leaving the audience inspired to engage in mentorship and connect through platforms like Mentor Link.

By fostering these connections between alumni and current students through Mentor Link and Alum Night events, UCalgary is actively creating experiential learning opportunities that engage the community. Through initiatives like these, UCalgary is ensuring that students and alumni are not only equipped with academic knowledge but are also prepared for the dynamic challenges of the future. 

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