MB Letter to the Editors: What should Mentor Built Mean?

We here at MentorBuilt have been positively inundated with an email recently. It came from a mentor who wanted us to pass along this letter to our illustrious fans all over the world but mostly in New Hampshire.

Here is the letter:

A letter to your editors:
I think it's fair to say that the MentorBuilt.com website, which seems like it came out of nowhere, has garnered a lot of attention this past year. The website has started debates about policies, rules, and is casting a net for change through satire and humor. I don't know if it's working but I do think it's entertaining.

 With that being said, I don't think it's answered the important question of what should being "Mentor Built" mean? How can we turn this tortured phase from a curse or a joke into something more? I think the answer is simple... at least to anyone who has been a student on a FIRST team. It is, after all, us students that are truly #MentorBuilt.

It's ironic that we need to look to the past to shape the future but it's only through students experiencing these programs and working with mentors that they gain an appreciation of what mentors can provide and thus themselves, later in life, become mentors to other students. It's hard to understand the impact mentors have until you've graduated and had some time to reflect on it but it's not hard to know there is an impact, it's obvious really.

We know from FIRST's own studies that FIRST participants are more likely to become volunteers later in their lives. This is in no small part due to the role models that FIRST participants have around them, adults, giving back and working with these young minds, influencing them, and in many cases, helping them accomplish tasks they didn't realize were possible or even in their grasp.

It's not just the hard skills that mentors can teach us though. In my case, it wasn't the value of CAD, the ability to program a PID algorithm, or turn a wrench that would become the most valuable to me. It's the skills of communication and empathy that continue to propel me forward. I didn't set out to learn those skills to start with (I just wanted to build robots!) and I don't think my mentors were intentionally trying teach them to me but they did.

I learned how to organize and motivate my fellow students by sending regular emails and communicating status and deadlines, I learned how to communicate plans ahead of time to make sure we had mentors available to open our lab and students to work in it, and I learned that the value of someone else's time is theirs to assign and mine to realize (when I didn't communicate those things and others were left sitting out in the proverbial cold).

For me, being Mentor Built isn't a curse anymore. It's not even a satirical website. It's a point of pride as an FRC alumni. It's a statement about how I was made. It's a testament to the adults that gave their time to teach me something I didn't know and it describes how I see my students and how, I hope, one day they will see themselves.

If you would like to submit a letter to the editors, you can email us at editors@MentorBuilt.com

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