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  • Jennifer Hanft

Mid-Semester ATHENA Dinner Shenanigans

We have finally reached the mid-semester point. Know what that means? We’re halfway through the semester and it never fails to amaze me how quickly time passes. So by now, I’ve met with my mentor twice since ATHENA started and it has been a great experience. Why? Well, let me tell you. I walked in hoping that this was going to be a peer mentorship program and that’s exactly what I got.

Now don’t get me wrong, professional mentorships are great for guidance, advice, and strategic career planning, but peer mentorships? That’s where the gold is. The strictness, the professionalism, the hierarchy of authority and power, all of it fades into a beautiful blend of part-friendship, part-mentor. And the best part of it is? You are peers! That’s right, you don’t have to feel like you’re inferior or that you have to idolize your mentor. Sure, admiration is one thing, but you are your own individual and the beauty of this program is that you get to develop and grow with your mentor. So regardless of whether you’re the mentee or the mentor, the main objective is growth and you should be able to contribute no matter what “side” you’re on. Ever heard of relationships being a two-way street? Well slip on your sneakers because in order to succeed, you must always meet the other person halfway for any relationship to work. Contribute to each other, never be afraid to speak up, and learn to be comfortable. There’s no pressure, really.

So, want to guess which “side” I’m on? Mentor, mentee? I’m both, and all of you participating are too. But since we’re getting into more technical terms, I’m the mentee. A little bit about myself, for those strangers out there reading these words, I’m a late senior majoring in Human Resources Management with a dual minor in English and Psychology. Damn girl, double minor? Yes, that’s right! So guess who my mentor is? Tina “Get Things Done” Hussain. It’s so funny because we were like a match made in heaven. We’re both driven, independent, hard-working women with the same field of study. And the best part? We’re both confused about whether HR is something we want to stay in. That’s right people, being confused is okay. In life, things don’t always go as planned and that’s just something we need to accept. It’s okay to not know exactly where you want to be or where you’d like to go. It’s okay to change directions. We’re all trying to find ourselves and in order to do so, we have to explore and take risks. Anyway, want to know an even more ridiculous similarity? We both had the ideas of launching blogs (her for event planning and myself for fashion/lifestyle/beauty). Now the coolest part? We both said it and then made it happen. That’s the beauty of this relationship. Aside from shared interests and goals, we both encouraged each other to make it happen. Support, support, support! Sometimes we all need a little push, don’t we?

The thing that I love most about this relationship is that as she helps me, I’m able to help her as well. Everyone is good at certain things and in order to foster improvement, we should always lend each other a helping hand. That’s why Tina and I are growing together. Our relationship is more friend based than anything else which makes talking more smooth, comfortable, and relaxing.

Now, getting to the point: the dinner. Everyone met up at The Madhatter where we each caught up, talked about things that are new or just the same plain, boring details we face everyday. I met a bunch of new faces which was refreshing. We didn’t stay in little cliques which was great. Everyone socialized like adults, talking about life, new directions, what to order, plans for the weekend, and all that jazz. We bonded over our starvation--having been forced to watch the other table eat food in a well-lit part of the outside eating space. Meanwhile, we sat in near darkness, laughing over how cold it was getting, and the fear that it might rain since a roof was nonexistent. The irony of sitting in a restaurant named after the Madhatter from Alice in Wonderland. Have we all gone mad?

In the grand scheme of things, why yes, yes we have. With so many members present一from alumaes to board members, full-years to half-years, mentors to mentees一we of course had to incorporate some game that brought us all together in one form or another. That’s how Add-A-Word-Telephone became a thing. The objective was to make a coherent sentence between the 28 of us present. The outcome? An ultimate fail, but as a result, there was an abundant wave of laughs, wide eyes, and confused expressions. Now imagine, what started off as “I have a…” landed somewhere along the lines of “blue striped donkey hot thong”. Where that came from, we have no idea! But we probably all went mad sitting with growling stomachs in the cold darkness. Maybe we all needed some snickers. Hah!

All in all, we enjoyed each other’s company, especially through the wild waves of the good and bad, light and dark, state of hunger and food coma. Can’t wait to see where this road takes each of us as we get closer to the finish line and close of the program. But we should all remember, that it will never be the end; just the beginning of a new chapter.

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