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The Transformative Power of Mentorship
BY LARA MORGAN · SENIOR SOLUTIONS MANAGER · UNITED STATES
WITH HELEN GALL
3 MINUTE READ · 5 MINUTE LISTEN
Our life experiences impact the choices we make, shaping us into the individuals we become.
My journey is marked by my mother’s health challenges and unwavering spirit, which instilled in me the transformative power of giving back.
It is that spirit that recently connected me with the Global Mentorship Initiative (GMI). This remarkable nonprofit organization provides college students essential guidance and business skills to through online mentorship.
Here’s what brought me to them:
As the youngest of four children in Berkeley, California, my childhood took an unexpected turn when I turned five.
First, my parents separated, and my dad moved out. Shortly after, my mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
Over the next several years, going with my mom to countless doctors' appointments while witnessing her gradual physical decline left an indelible mark on my heart.
Through it all, my mom remained a beacon of strength and resilience, never losing her beautiful smile, even while suffering and in great pain. Sadly, she lost her battle in 2012, but her unwavering spirit has inspired me every day since.
That spirit inspired me to provide support to those in need.
When I was 16, I began volunteering at my local church and nearby hospitals, comforting those in need. Several years later, after graduating college and earning a degree in math and statistics, I became a police officer, committed to serving and protecting others.
I loved serving my community. Unfortunately, I suffered a career-ending injury when I was 27 and was forced to reevaluate my career path. Over the next decade, I traveled extensively during a prolonged period of self-discovery that eventually connected me with Cisco.
In the late 1990s, I spent time traveling in Italy. I then flew to Australia to witness the millennium and the famous Sydney fireworks.
I fell in love with Australia and decided to make it my home. I secured a job at Laptop Land in Sydney, where I supported Cisco with their laptop refresh project.
Unfortunately, Laptop Land eventually went out of business, but I was able to find other opportunities within Cisco.
I worked in various vendor roles, including GTRC (Technical Response Center), desktop support, and networking. In 2010, I moved back to the U.S. and joined the Corporate Affairs team. After a brief pause in 2017, when my vendor status expired, my family and I relocated to France for a year.
I have always been drawn to the culture at Cisco and wanted to become a part of it for a long time. This desire finally materialized in 2018 when I rejoined Cisco and became a member of the Global Partner Organization, then last year, I transitioned to ONEx as a Solutions Manager.
Connecting with Global Mentorship Initiative
I’ve never given up my passion for helping others and I longed for the opportunity to give back. When reading an article one morning for Global Mentorship Initiative (GMI) — a fabulous non-profit organization that provides guidance and business skills to college students through online mentorship — I was intrigued.
GMI was founded in 2019 and has a footprint that spans 70 countries. It connects college students with experienced professionals to assist them with their job search. Structured mentorship relationships offer short-term guidance with career professionals.
Volunteer mentors share their knowledge, experience, and insights with their assigned students, creating meaningful connections that promote long-lasting relationships.
Companies partner with GMI to build cultural competency, develop leadership skills, strengthen communication and teamwork, and diversify hiring pipelines, among other CSR and sustainable development goals.
The GMI mission resonated deeply with my own personal journey. Soon, I began working with a local college student.
During my four-month commitment, I had the opportunity to work closely with my mentee — someone who had experienced the U.S. foster care system. Together, we worked on various tasks, such as creating a resume, setting up a LinkedIn profile, applying for jobs, preparing for interviews, and following up on promising job opportunities.
In less than four months, my impact nearly doubled: Not only did my mentee acquire practical professional skills but I inspired her to become a mentor in the group home where she was raised.
Nearly a year after our relationship began, we remain connected.
In addition to helping create individual mentorship relationships, GMI organizes networking events, workshops, and seminars that enhance professional development for college students. Their invaluable support helps young adults navigate the complexities of their academic and professional lives.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with GMI. The experience has been profound, allowing me to offer my experience and skills and make a positive difference in a student’s life trajectory.
Their work is a testament to the transformative power of giving back, which is an incredibly meaningful way to memorialize the spirit of my mother.
- Learning and Development
- Global Mentorship Initiative
- Our Impact - CSR and Time2Give
- Cisco Purpose Report 2022
- Careers at Cisco
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