While all paths of life are different, nobody’s would be quite the same without the mentors that have helped shape each and every one of us. On today’s Thank Your Mentor Day, check out these tributes several of our staff members wrote to their mentors, and be sure to take the time to thank those who have supported your growth over the years.

My mentor in graduate school was Dr. Gayle Cox. Her vast experience made her a gifted professor. Her passion for protecting the underserved was inspiring. Her intellectual knowledge challenged me. Her compassion comforted me. Her warmth was felt in the classroom and beyond. Her commitment to me as a social worker continues to this day. Gayle and her husband are currently tutors for School on Wheels.
– Sally Bindley, MSW – Founder & CEO

My high school German teacher was an incredible mentor to me in many ways. She encouraged me to study abroad at 16 for a summer and later for a year at the University of Hamburg. Both experiences were profoundly life changing (I met my husband in Hamburg). As avid readers, we often traded book recommendations. She was also a marathon runner and introduced me to distance running, inspiring me to run a 12K my senior year. That race experience sparked a life long love of running. I celebrated my 40th birthday by running the Chicago Marathon and often thought of her during those long training runs. Vielen Dank, Frau Blice, for believing in me and inspiring me to do things I never thought possible!
– Kate Hussey, Executive Vice President

I have had some really great mentors over the years so it is hard to name just one. I can say that each of them were unique in their own way but the one message that was communicated by all of them is definitely one that I hear loud and clear when I am thinking through an idea to try; everyone makes mistakes so never look at your mistakes as a failure but rather a learning opportunity to grow from.
– Laura Alvarado, Director of Programs

One mentor that stands out to me is my Aunt Dottie. She traveled the world and always brought back fascinating souvenirs and stories. She was a teacher and one of the reasons I chose the same field to study when I went to college.
– Karen Routt, Program Manager

My childhood kidney doctor, Dr. Leisure, was one of my best mentors growing up. Not only did he impart much wisdom to me during my health struggles that enabled me to cope better. He was super intelligent! He would help me with physics problems that I would bring in and we would have discussion on quantum mechanics at every appointment. He taught me to roll with the punches in life while thriving and taught me a lot about teaching and interpersonal skills with children.
– Joy Araujo, Program Coordinator

One of my most influential mentors in college was Scott Whiddon. Although he was a professor, I didn’t have him in class until my senior year. However, through his role as advisor for our campus radio station, Scott often guided me through tricky real-life scenarios of management, leadership and ethics. After four years of working for a campus organization, his influence led me to pursue a career in nonprofit work, leaning towards an interest in education-focused groups.  I’ve learned a lot of lessons from Scott, but one stands out: “Doing what you love” and “having a successful career” don’t have to be mutually exclusive statements.  Many thanks, Dr. Whiddon.
– Alex Keys, AmeriCorps VISTA