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F&M Stories

Mentorship: What F&M Does Differently

What does success look like to F&M students? 

“Success means different things to different people, but no matter the definition, it relies on students having the skills and confidence to chart their own paths in life,” says Matt Thomas  ’10, director of leadership, mentorship and life design initiatives at Ƶ & Marshall.

Thomas’ role is one of many ways that F&M offers support beyond typical career counseling. 

Within six months after graduation, 93% of F&M’s 2023 graduates were either employed or continuing their education. This is notably higher than the national average, which is typically around 85%.

Prior to graduation, students have the chance to prepare for the workforce or further studies through immersive programs led by F&M's Office of Student & Post-Graduate Development (OSPGD). The True Blue Mentorship Program – F&M’s hallmark mentorship initiative – pairs students with successful alumni working in their field of study. 

Learn what mentorship really means at F&M, as described by Thomas. 

Matt Thomas '10

F&M: What does “life design” mean? 

Thomas: Life design is an extension of design thinking, which is a process used by designers and teams in various industries to intentionally create all manner of products and outcomes. 

In my role, I’m excited to help students connect with the resources they need to explore and chart meaningful, balanced and fulfilling lives — from courses about financial literacy or etiquette to guidance for choosing an industry that feels personally fulfilling. Life-design models can also provide students with tools for making difficult decisions in their lives. Moving from being told “you can do anything” while students are in high school and college, to choosing a defined something in a career or field after college can be a difficult transition. OSPGD and the larger F&M community are here to help students navigate these changes and exciting opportunities. 

"Moving from being told 'you can do anything' while students are in high school and college, to choosing a defined something in a career or field after college can be a difficult transition."

Matt Thomas ’10
F&M: Why do you feel leadership, mentorship and life design are important to student success? 

Thomas: Success means different things to different people, but no matter the definition, it relies on students having the skills and confidence to chart their own paths in life. Giving students the knowledge that leadership is inclusive, values-based and collaborative – and the space and guidance to explore what leadership means to them within and beyond these principles – offers them a head start in understanding who they are as leaders, community members and individuals, and how they will achieve their personal goals (or, put another way, design their own lives). 

Mentorship promotes this growth through individualized connections and support. I’m excited to work with our students as they build their own mentor “board of directors,” a diverse support network that makes it easier to navigate the complexities of our constantly changing world. 

How does F&M prepare students for success after graduation?

As an alum, I call upon the skills and critical lens that I developed at F&M on an almost daily basis. In every class I took at the College, I was given the opportunity to develop personal relationships with not only my peers but also my professors – many of whom were the first colleagues I connected with upon returning to campus. It’s wonderful to now be supporting students with programming that complements this academic power and to be joining a community full of individuals who are part of the same mission – fostering students of intellect, creativity and character.

Note: F&M Staff Council contributed to this story.

"As an alum, I call upon the skills and critical lens that I developed at F&M on an almost daily basis."

Matt Thomas ’10

 

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