Women and Philanthropy: Mentors, Students Develop Strong Bonds

WIP Mentees cropSeveral participants in the Women and Philanthropy (W&P) group at California State University, Dominguez Hills reunited during the organization’s annual fall student-mentor mixer held in the Loker Student Union on Sept. 18. The event was also an opportunity for new and potential participants to meet and discover details about the program.

Founded by Shirley Smith, the wife of former mayor of Carson and past member of university advisory boards Gilbert Smith, the organization is dedicated to mentorship between women who are successful professionals and those who are students at the university. There are currently 19 mentees and 15 mentors participating in the program.

Smith asserted that in addition to networking off-campus, becoming involved on campus was equally important to personal development.

Former president of Associated Students, Incorporated (ASI) Djeneba Myriam Coulibaly shared with the women how she went from being a shy immigrant to a confident student leader through her involvement on campus and striving to meet as many other students as she could. She said the mixer was a good place for potential W&P members to start networking.

While mentors have provided students with academic, professional and personal support and guidance, several agreed that they, too, gain insights through the relationships they develop with students.

“They teach me as much as I teach them,” said Carole Keen, a longtime mentor and former director of the Carson Coordinating Council.

One of her mentees, alumna Evelin Magaña (Class of ’05, B.A., human services), explained that their relationship grew so close that they are essentially part of each other’s families.

Students visit with their mentor Carole Keen.

Students visit with their mentor Carole Keen.

“I had Carole as my mentor since I was about 19, and I’m 30 now, so it’s been a lot of years already. It’s played a very important role in my life. Whenever I needed [guidance], I would—and still do—contact Carole. She’s been there for my graduation, my first degree, my second degree. I had tea for the first time when Carole took me….  She’s introduced me to things I had never done before,” Magaña commented. “I love [the W&P program], it’s been a great experience.”

Magaña, an eligibility worker at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services, went on to say that the W&P program was an integral part of her professional development—through it, she was able to find her first job.

Smith recognized the contributions of W&P supporters Jennifer Johnson, director of public affairs, and Angela Hudnall, property management accountant, both from the Watson Land Company, and Tamala Lewis, director of community affairs for AEG/StubHub Center.

In addition to urging students to become involved on campus through such groups as ASI, Smith outlined the importance of building an off-campus network as well.

“When you get to know people who are outside the campus—like me … and Tamala [Lewis]—you just built your network so much bigger, because we know so many people. We have such contacts, we have resources. So, you’re able to tap into all that,” Smith noted.

For more information on Women and Philanthropy program, contact Danielle Chambers, administrative and special populations coordinator of Student Support Services program, at dchambers@csudh.edu.