January is National Mentoring Month. To sign up to become a mentor for an O’Neill IUPUI student through Mentor Collective, visit this link. For students interested in being matched with a mentor, visit this link.
Nicholas Connon (BSPA’87) has traveled the world many times over, working in numerous locations around the globe and connecting with international leaders and executives in diverse fields. His law firm has offices in London and Los Angeles.
His days begin early and end late. To say Connon’s calendar is full would be an understatement. Yet no matter where his work takes him or what his schedule looks like, he makes time for O’Neill students.
“I have a passion for trying to help younger people understand the world in a more detailed way,” Connon says with a smile.
That passion plays out in the form of paying it forward. His desire to help students become better world citizens and be successful at the same time led to the creation of a new O’Neill School study abroad opportunity in the United Arab Emirates, opening the door to help students work toward a sense of global competency.
Here at home, Connon is involved with Mentor Collective, mentoring multiple O’Neill students by phone, email, and online, even before the COVID-19 pandemic began. While he admits he preferred to meet students face-to-face and would do so whenever he returned to Indiana, technology has played a critical role in him continuing to help prepare students for their futures.
One way he does that is by using his connections to bring distinguished guests from the national and international communities to IUPUI and IU Bloomington. This work provides additional learning and educational opportunities from people who are, as Connon puts it, in the real world doing real-world things.
“People like those who have run for office or are involved in politics at the grassroots level, they have a wealth of knowledge that they can share with younger people,” Connon says.
He knows that introducing students to those in their fields of interest creates a tremendous learning opportunity. And Connon feels a calling to make those connections.
“Students are a little intimidated or shy and don’t want to inconvenience someone,” he explains. “They tell me they don’t want to bother people because they know they’re really busy. But someone like me—who bothers people all the time—can do it in a way that gets a dialogue going. I try to create opportunities for students because I feel that we all have an obligation as a community to help each other.”
Connon says his network began to build during his time at O’Neill, through the opportunities he was afforded. He says working hard, applying yourself, and making good decisions are all important factors that increase the chances of success, but acknowledges that no one becomes successful entirely on their own merits. Rather it’s a combination of factors and support systems that create opportunities.
“It’s the result of going to a school that gave you a great education, meeting a professor who mentored you, meeting a colleague who taught you a tremendous amount,” he says. “Those all help to make people successful.”
Connon says he feels an obligation to give back to the people and institutions that have contributed to his own success. Mentorship is one of the ways he can fulfill that obligation.
“I get the satisfaction of seeing a younger person develop and improve themselves and know that, going forward, they’re going to understand something better, present themselves and ideas better, get a foot in the door on a job,” he says. “I get great satisfaction from that. You get back far more than you give when you mentor students.”
That’s why Connon persists—despite living 2,000 miles away in California; despite having an incredibly busy schedule; despite working in a field that keeps him traveling much of the time. He is committed to making a difference in the world by creating a better future through students.
“I have a broader vision that I believe doing these things will make us all better,” he says. “My hope is we’ll be able to live together and coexist more peacefully.”
To learn more about Mentor Collective through O’Neill IUPUI, visit our website.