February’s Mentee of the Month: Collins Mokua CC'21

Congratulations to Collins Mokua CC'21 for being selected as our Mentee of the Month for February. Collins is a senior majoring in neuroscience and behavior with a special interest in global and public health.  He is the chief financial officer emeritus of the Columbia University Black Pre-Professional Society, the VP emeritus of the African Students Association executive board, a mentor for CU STRIVE, a constituent of the Charles Drew Pre-Medical Society and a dancer in Ijoya - the premier African dance company at Columbia.  

Interview with Collins Mokua CC'21

Have you connected with alumni during the COVID-19 pandemic? If so, what has that experience been like? 
Yes. A consequence of everything being virtual, I have had the opportunity to connect with alumni I would have otherwise never met. It's been such a great learning experience because as a senior, the transition out of undergrad is quite daunting. However, I found that alumni are very willing to share their wisdom on how to navigate the next step after graduation. Hearing several perspectives and learning about others' experiences has made me more confident that everything will be just fine in the end. 
What advice would you give to an alum who is looking to mentor a student? 
Sharing stories is one of the best ways to connect with others. Making genuine efforts to learn about the needs of students is the best way to support students. Sharing networks and making referrals also has a huge impact on the trajectory of someone's career, so please do leverage your connections for the sake of others as well. Lastly, whenever possible, be the one to reach out. It is always a great feeling when a mentor checks up on you. 
What has been most helpful about connecting with alumni?

Having my eyes opened to the number of options available after graduation has been phenomenal. It encourages me to be bold about pursuing my interest, because there is no "right" answer. As one speaker at an Odyssey Roundtable said, "It doesn't matter what step you take, as long as you take a step." Presumably forward, but regardless, a step is action and that is really what life is all about. Alumni have helped me deal with the anxiety of taking on the world as a "real" adult simply by sharing their journeys and retelling how they had the same fears and anxieties. 
What has been most surprising about connecting with and hearing from alumni?

How relatable they can be despite being so far along in their respective careers. It's grounding to hear the stories of how people got to where they are. It helps in building confidence in the process. They always say "trust the process," but it's significantly harder to trust something we cannot see or touch. Alumni are so impactful in proving that indeed, the process does work and that things always move forward for the best. 

About the Odyssey Mentoring Program

The Odyssey Mentoring Program (OMP) was founded on the belief that Columbia College students and alumni want to support one another, share stories and encourage one another’s success, thus creating a strong and tight-knit community. The College has more than 50,000 alumni working in myriad careers and around the country. OMP makes it possible for community members to connect in a variety of ways, from an email exchange to in-person meetings and small group gatherings.