When students enter higher education, they often find a vastly different world than what they left behind.
A new school. A new environment. A new focus.
All that newness can leave students feeling overwhelmed and unsure of themselves, their decisions, and their direction.
To offer more support to its students, the O’Neill School partners with Mentor Collective to provide mentoring from O’Neill alumni. When undergraduates enroll in the program, they’re matched with alums based on their interests, backgrounds, academic interests, and career goals. It’s a direct line into the powerful O’Neill alumni network.
Students and their mentors can talk in person, online, or by phone. Their conversations typically focus on:
- How majors will impact professional options
- How to balance the demands of school
- How students can set themselves up for academic, social, and career success
Richard Gilyeat (BSPA’87) serves as a mentor to O’Neill students.
“This is just part of what we do at O’Neill,” he explains. “We’re family here and we help each other out.”
He earned his degree in Urban Development and Planning nearly 35 years ago. The skills he learned at O’Neill and the impact his own mentors had on his life have carried him through the decades.
“Throughout my education and my life, mentors have helped me grasp concepts I was struggling with,” he says. “Their help has allowed me to succeed in my career and I want to help other people do the same.”
And he has. In Mentor Collective, Gilyeat says he draws on his own experiences to serve O’Neill students and let them know they’re not alone.
“I make sure they know there’s no judgment when we talk and that they feel supported,” he explains.
Gilyeat says providing that support and real-world insight helps students see the diverse career options and opportunities available to them because of their O’Neill majors.
“A lot of students are just looking for a little bit of a confidence boost—someone to reassure them that they’re on the right career path and there are jobs available for them,” he says. “As a mentor, I get to be one of the people to help students understand how they can take their degree and apply it to real-world settings.”
Gilyeat knows it’s possible because he’s done it himself. Now a project manager with the Indiana Department of Transportation, he’s spent the past 14 years working on projects around the state “protecting the environment and making sure we find solutions that are environmentally friendly.”
He credits his O’Neill education with teaching him how to balance infrastructure and the environment.
“My degree had the environmental and management skills along with urban planning, and I use all those skills today in my job,” he says. “What you learn at O’Neill directly translates to what you’re doing in your career.”
Gilyeat credits his many mentors along the way with helping him stay on track with his career and to help him learn to trust himself.
“Sometimes I’m just a mirror for students and reflect back to them,” he says. “It’s great to watch them make the connections on their own and realize the path they chose really is a good fit for them.”
To learn more about Mentor Collective through O’Neill IUPUI, visit our website.