I agree with Susan's definition of mentors--I've had lots of advisors
(both in and out of school) but only two mentors in my life.
For the record, both mentors were (are) men, and both encouraged me to
reach beyond my grasp and to stick it out when the going got tough. One
encouraged me to continue my pursuit of science when I reached a crossroad
in my life--he might even have pulled some strings for me. That's not the
path I chose however, so I guess I'll never know.
In one case, the mentor was a valued counselor who became a family friend;
in the other, the mentor was a professor at a prestigious university whom
I met (when I was an undergrad) when he visited NMSU. In neither case was
there ever any sexual undercurrent to the relationships.
I keep in touch with each of these remarkable, wonderful people only about
once a year these days by letter, but I speak with them often in my
mind--their wisdom and advice has become incorporated into my own psyche.
These are folks who believed in me, who steadied me when I tried to stand,
and who supported me even when I made choices they didn't agree with. I
feel privileged to have known them.
Also, for the record, one of my mentors is of different racial descent
than am I--that difference also enriched our friendship and permanently
affected my view of others.
kdurack at nmsu.edu