“I failed the practical twice. It wasn’t a major test, but it was my first experience with failure in grad school. I started doubting my capabilities,” she says.
“A fellow student took some time to talk to me about how to look at it as a learning experience and not let it define my future. That new perspective restored my confidence and I’m on track to graduate with honors.”
As a result, Nappi was inspired to join the Student Occupational Therapy Association’s Peer Mentor program.
“The program is an opportunity for students to get advice from someone who has been there and has a positive perspective.”
Here, she shares ideas about mentorship anyone can apply:
Listen first. Listening helps you understand the whole person, which will help you offer a complete solution. “One of my mentees was away from home for the first time. That helped me understand it wasn’t just the coursework she was struggling with, it was also the social and emotional adjustment, so we worked on developing social connections as well as getting her the academic support she needed,” says Nappi.
Be a partner to your mentees. Rather than jumping in and trying to solve your mentees’ problems, engage them in building their own solutions. Ask open-ended questions that will encourage discussion, such as: What have you tried so far? What worked? What would you change? “Not every approach works for every person,” she says. “It’s important for both of you to be open to suggestions so you can problem solve together.”
Encourage stress management. You can’t be completely focused on work or school 24/7. Encourage mentees to seek balance. “Everyone needs an outlet,” she says. “Find out what your mentees enjoy and remind them to have fun. One of my mentees hadn’t been to yoga since she started grad school, so I encouraged her to take one hour a week to go. Graduate school is challenging, but you can’t lose yourself along the way.”