March’s Mentee of the Month: Esterah Brown CC'21

Congratulations to Esterah Brown CC'21 for being selected as our Mentee of the Month for March. Esterah is a senior majoring in political science with a history concentration.  She is a staff writer in the Arts and Entertainment section of the Columbia Daily Spectator, an NSOP Orientation Leader, and a bartender with the Columbia Bartending agency.  

Interview with Esterah Brown CC'21

Have you connected with alumni during the COVID-19 pandemic? If so, what has that experience been like? 
Yes. Over Zoom, I have connected with an individual alumni mentor and engaged in diversity roundtables. Specifically, I participated in the Odyssey Diversity Roundtable for Black students and alumni. Students spoke with Black alumni about their career journeys and how they navigate their professional lives as people of color. I also chatted individually with my mentor about post-grad life, being a Black woman in the workplace, and personally developing through professional pursuits. Although both of these experiences were over Zoom, they were incredibly inspiring, informative, and uplifting. It would have been more challenging to host a roundtable event in person because people called in from across the country. 
What advice would you give to an alum who is looking to mentor a student? 
As a senior who is still deciding what I want to do professionally, it is beneficial to hear about the transition from student life to post-grad life. I also enjoy hearing from alumni who switched career paths to focus on something they were more passionate about. So, it would be helpful if alumni tailored their advice to the student's specific concerns and class year. 
What has been most helpful about connecting with alumni?

I heard from a broad range of alumni in the roundtable, all with diverse career paths and experiences. The roundtable was helpful because it gave me insight into multiple industries. Each alumnus provided unique advice respective to their fields. The roundtable was especially valuable because there are so few professional spaces where Black students can connect with Black alumni and learn from their experiences. 
What has been most surprising about connecting with and hearing from alumni?

All of the alumni I have met are so insightful, generous with their time, and open about the challenges they have faced. I was surprised by how much of their time they gave, how optimistic they were, and how relevant their advice was. Especially with networking tips and finding your fit in the professional world. 

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.