July's Mentor of the Month: Ahiza Garcia CC'10

Left: Ahiza Garcia CC'10 with her (now) fiancé who she met at Columbia. Right: Current photo of Garcia.

Congratulations to Ahiza Garcia CC'10, as July 2019 Mentor of the Month. In addition to mentoring students through Columbia College Women, Garcia is participating in Odyssey Mentoring's Summer Match program and mentoring two students for the summer.

Interview with Ahiza Garcia CC'10

Tell us about your Summer Match mentor experience so far. How many students are you mentoring?

I’m mentoring two students this summer and thus far it’s been a really positive experience! Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to meet with them in person because of their summer opportunities, but it’s still, I hope, been productive for them. One of my mentees is working in South Africa for the summer so we’ve had to coordinate calls when she’s signing off for the day and I’m just getting mine started. We’ve already chatted about her career goals and I hope I’ve helped answer some of her questions about journalism careers and the media industry. She had really great questions and perspective on her career path and will send me her resume so I can review it. I’m also thinking of any contacts I have who could help her navigate the industry once she graduates.

What have you gained from being a mentor?

I’ve consistently mentored through Columbia College Women but participating in the Summer Match program has been a really exciting way to engage with even more students. Mentoring gives me a sense that I’m passing the torch. That might sound corny, but I’ve had amazing mentors who helped in big and small ways as I progressed in both my career and life. Some might not have even known that they helped, but their generosity left an indelible mark on me. Mentoring allows me to feel like I’m giving back, and it’s rewarding because I feel like I’m helping others, and, I hope, honoring those who helped me.

What advice you would give a student looking for a mentor or a student who might be curious if having a mentor is for them?

Take advantage of programs like Summer Match! The Odyssey Mentoring platform creates a connection for you, which can be daunting for some students. With programs like this, it’s important to use them to the max, because the mentors signed up for it [and want to help]. That said, there shouldn't be anything keeping you from reaching out to people in an industry or with a job you admire or value. I’m always eager to engage with students who have the gumption and show the initiative to reach out via a cold email. I don’t think I'm alone in this! I think most alumni are willing to meet for coffee or to email with a student who wants to ask questions about their career paths. Use your alumni database/network and reach out to people — trust me, they’ll be flattered! Just do it!

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.