Alumni Mentor-Mentee Q&A: Lauren Bard, Charlotte Collins, and Kira Mok

Lauren Bard is an Honors alumna who received both her Bachelor’s (‘03) and Master’s (‘05) degrees in Criminal Justice from Northeastern. She is also a licensed social worker, working in numerous in nonprofit youth development agencies throughout her career, including her current role as the Youth and Family Support Manager at Camp Harborview in Boston. Lauren is a dedicated mentor that joined the Honors Alumni Mentoring Network in its pilot year. 

Two good friends and current Honors students, Charlotte Collins (COS ‘23)  and Kira Mok (CSSH ‘23) have both had the pleasure of being matched with Lauren as a mentor; Charlotte in the 2019-20 academic year and Kira in 2020-21. Charlotte and Kira met through the Northeastern Environmental Justice Research Collaborative (NEJRC) and have been friends ever since.  

Here’s what Lauren, Charlotte, and Kira had to say about being involved in the Honors Alumni Mentoring Network.  

 

Why did you choose to join the Honors Alumni Mentoring Network? 

Lauren: I chose to get involved in the NU Honors Alumni Mentoring Network because it seemed like a great way to stay connected to Northeastern through personal relationships with current students, and a great reason to visit campus! I have been able to meet some amazing young people, and I have learned about new things that NU offers today that didn’t exist during my time there (like dialogues!)    

Kira: I’ve really enjoyed being a part of the Honors Alumni Mentoring Network. I chose to be a part of the program because I love getting insight and advice from people who are more experienced than me. I have been both a mentor and a mentee for various other programs, and I always learn so much!  

 

Lauren, since you’ve been involved since the program started, could you tell us a little bit more about how you mentor students and why you keep coming back every year? 

Lauren: In a previous job, I coordinated a mentoring program in Boston between high school students and community volunteers, with thoughtful matches and a match-day event.  I shared that experience with this program’s founding coordinator, and some of those practices are in place now!  It’s been great to see the program grow over the years, and even more amazing to see former mentees graduate and kick-off their careers. 

I usually try to treat my mentees to a meal when we meet, because I remember what it was like to be a student on a tight budget. I do community-based work not far from the Boston campus, so I also try to invite my mentees to visit me at work for a tour or an interesting event in the community. I have found that even when a student’s career plans don’t exactly match my own path, I have been able to connect them to folks in my network that are very aligned with their interests.  I have been asked to give feedback on resumes and cover letters as well as LinkedIn profiles; things that are valuable regardless of career path.  

 

Charlotte and Kira, what has been most valuable about your mentorship with Lauren? 

Charlotte: Lauren has given me valuable advice on working in the non-profit sector, connected me with members of the Boston food justice community, and shown me hidden gem restaurants in the city. Once, while eating lunch at the Haley House, we ran into a few of her connections in the food justice non-profit field, including the founder of Fresh Truck! Although our mentorship officially ended, we’ve stayed in touch and gotten to follow each other’s work throughout the changes the pandemic has brought.    

Kira: Unfortunately, Lauren and I haven’t been able to meet in person due to COVID-19, but it still has been an amazing experience and hopefully, we can meet in person one day! I’m interested in pursuing a career in environmental justice, which is different from Lauren’s career, but we’ve been able to find so many connections and shared interests. She’s given me insight into some of the pros and cons of working in nonprofit sector, which has been really helpful. We’ve also talked about everything from how to make the most of co-op to advice about graduate school. I even got to learn about Lauren’s time in the Peace Corps, which was really cool and inspiring! It has also been fun to hear about what parts of Northeastern have changed and what aspects have stayed the same. I’m so grateful to have Lauren as a mentor, and I’m appreciative of her willingness to share her advice and experiences.   

 

What advice would you give to potential Mentors or Mentees for fostering a successful mentoring relationship? 

Lauren: I would advise mentees to take advantage of the opportunity to connect with and ask questions to your mentor. Remember that the mentors have volunteered for this program so we WANT to connect with you, even if we seem busy.  You never know who is in their network, even if their exact career isn’t what you’re interested in. And to the mentors– be persistent. Students are very busy with class, work, and activities but sending an email or a text to say hello can be the encouragement they need to take advantage of the connection.    

Charlotte: A piece of advice I’d give to potential mentees is to go in with an open mind and an interest in finding commonalities between you and your mentor, even if you don’t hope to work in their exact field.     

Kira: I would recommend going into the relationship with an open mind! You are definitely going to learn a lot, and it might be about topics that you didn’t initially anticipate. For mentees, I would suggest preparing some questions to get your conversation started and then follow up on topics you want to learn more about based on your mentor’s answers. Another small suggestion I would give is if the meeting was scheduled far in advance, it doesn’t hurt to send a quick reminder email the week of to make sure the time still works!   

 

What was your most meaningful experience during your time as an Honors student at Northeastern? 

Lauren: One memorable moment I have from my time as an honors student was during an honors adjunct class I took with my Abnormal Psychology class.  From that large lecture, about 6 honors students met weekly with the professor in his office, and at one point, he demonstrated hypnosis. I didn’t really know that hypnosis was real until I witnessed him hypnotize one of my classmates!    

Charlotte: My most meaningful experience as an Honors student has been the dialogue I went on to India and Nepal studying Climate Science and Policy, which was funded by the Honors global bank account. It inspired me to change my major to environmental studies 

Kira: Last semester, I was in an Honors Directed Study with Dr. Sara Wylie. This was a great experience to get to work one on one with a professor and explore a topic that I’m interested in. I was able to gain further experience in facilitating discussions about complex readings. In this course, we worked together to create a syllabus that explored different approaches to education and research, focusing on relationships, gratitude, and equity. I want to work on environmental justice research in the future, and this course allowed me to think about how I can work to conduct research that is inclusive and restorative.