Mentors Share Professional Experience and Life Lessons - Two New Programs Offered to Students at Great Bay Community College

02/24/2015 by Lisa Proulx

PORTSMOUTH – “There should be a required course on all life lessons and career development before graduating college” said Jo Ann Hampson when explaining the rationale behind two new mentoring programs offered at Great Bay Community College in Portsmouth. She, along with Monique Shevlin, Principal at Signature Escrow & Title Services recently launched the Women in Business Executive Mentor Program for female students enrolled at the College. Through a lunchtime speaker series and group mentoring sessions, the program provides students with insight from successful female business leaders on a variety of topics including how to prepare for an interview and manage personal finances to navigating the demands of work, school and home.   In addition to the Women’s Mentoring Program, the College also offers a new individualized executive level coaching experience pairing industry mentors with student mentees.  The new Executive Mentoring program was recently developed by David Hampson, President & CEO of Willis Programs and husband of Jo Ann. “Because both programs are aimed at complimenting the education students are receiving in the classroom” said Mike Fischer, Associate V.P. of Student Affairs at Great Bay, “they fit perfectly into the Student Leadership program objectives established by the College.”

The Hampson’s approached Great Bay with the idea for establishing a mentoring program after their involvement in a similar program at Xavier University in Cincinnati. “I saw the students at Great Bay really needing a program like this” said David Hampson, “particularly given the diversity of the student body and the dual focus of either continuing education to a 4-year institution or seeking employment.” Hampson, himself a community college graduate, started his college career at University of South Carolina, and then transferred to Miami Dade Community College (MDCC) where he became a much more dedicated student. The move fostered his successful transfer to Florida State University where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Business.  He later completed his Master of Business Administration (MBA) at the University of Georgia.  “My Community College experience was a game change” said Hampson. “Until I went to MDCC, I was not a disciplined student. The MDCC student mix coupled with the serious attitude of the student body really helped me appreciate that secondary education was a privilege that I should fully embrace.”

Currently 12 students participate in the Women in Business Executive Mentor program, all of varying ages and majors.  Aligned with the academic year, participants meet regularly and have ongoing mentoring access to both Shevlin and Hampson.  “The students have an open door to communication and guidance so that we can help them with issues that are directly related to their situation.” said Jo Ann Hampson.  Speakers to date have included Renee Reidel-Plummer, Vice President of Marketing at Two International Group, who shared her personal story of success advising on the importance of networking and community involvement to Delise West, Owner and Founder of Human Resource Partners offered tips on job search preparation, resume writing and the interview process.  In February,  Carrie DiGeorge, Residential Lending Manager at Kennebunk Savings Bank discussed personal finance and credit management strategies.  According to Shevlin, topics are based on student requests and upcoming ideas range from balancing school and family and leadership skills to breaking into non- traditional fields and navigating the glass ceiling.  “I have learned so many great things from Jo Ann, Monique and the women they bring into the meeting every month, said student participant, Se'Airra Brown  “This month's meeting in particular was really helpful to me, especially since I don't have credit and I have always been skeptical about getting a one. The information really helped clear things up for me.”

The Executive Mentor Program which started in December of 2014 currently offers GBCC student’s  individual Executive-level coaching to address career aspirations, professional development, networking and further education.  Meetings cover topics including the academic classes and projects students can be working on to make them more marketable and employable upon graduation to how to create a professional resume. Mentees and mentors are paired up based on the mentees majors and their career objectives.  “Our ultimate goal” said Hampson “is to better enhance the student’s educational experience so that they can successfully launch a rewarding career or successfully continue their education upon graduating from GBCC.”  In addition to Hampson, mentors in the program include, CJ Lotter, SVP & Chief R&D Officer, Willis Programs, Debbie Stanley, SVP & Chief Operating Officer, Willis Programs, Monica McNally, formerly Chief Underwriting Officer, Willis Programs (recently retired), Matt McFarland, Vice President, R.M. Davis, Inc., Eric Gregg, Principal, Four Tree Island Advisory, LLC, Greg Whalen, Broker, NAI Norwood Group.

“As I walked the college journey with my own daughter, “said mentor Debbie Stanley, “she was asked how she would use her chosen major to be employed, what kind of employment would she seek? This was pivotal in her decision-making.  I have tried to bring that thought process to the student I am mentoring.  Sharing work experiences, and an opportunity to job shadow with one of our associates in a similar field have contributed to the real world exposure.  It’s rewarding for both individuals.”