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An Open Letter To Mentors
Dr. Jack E. Thomas, Ph.D., HSPP

Dear Mentor Applicant:

Thank you for applying to become an mentor. As psychologists, Erik Erikson and Lev Vygotsky understood, young people grow and develop their talents/abilities best with intelligent, timely, kind and thoughtful guidance from experienced others.

In the normal course of life, for most day-to-day challenges, guidance/instruction and advice comes from a parent. A parent might provide pointed career guidance but most of the time pointed guidance comes from a teacher or guidance counselor. If a young person is really lucky, guidance comes from an adult mentor who has specific insights into a particular career.

A mentor is a trusted, knowledgeable, and caring advisor who is able to share insights and timely goal related information. A mentor can be asked almost any question about his/her field of expertise and about his/her own journey to career accomplishment. While mentors are nurturing, reflective, open and approachable individuals, their most important attribute is that they are an authoritative and credible source of information about their field. The mentor’s interest is in helping young people: (1) clarify their interests, (2) identify their skills, (3) become aware of opportunities, (4) negotiate career hurdles and (5) advance toward their identified career goals.

The mentor is someone who is willing and ready to assist a young person on his or her career journey. From time to time, we can all benefit from having someone in our life that is willing to champion our cause, encourage us and provide instructive feedback. Such a relationship is helpful because it strengthens our skills and related competence.

Mentoring is at once a sober responsibility and a great privilege. Mentoring is a wonderful way to give something back to the next great generation. Psychologist, Erik Erikson, referred to this process as “generativity.” Those who are warmly connected to society have a stake in contributing their skills and abilities to society and have a stake in sharing their knowledge and insights with future generations. Society, obviously, is better off because of those who care to and in good faith invest time and effort in young people who are our future.

Mentors inform, counsel, advise and support young people. Mentoring is a wonderful validation of what our careers have meant to us. It is rewarding to help to pave a smoother career path for young people with whom we identify. Young people whose high aspirations and hopeful desires of future success profoundly encourage our generation as well. So, we encourage them and in turn their hopeful attitudes and excitement encourage our faith in the future.

Mentors helped me to set a course of high achievement and professional growth. I received caring guidance along the way from those I trusted – whose advice I almost always took. As a young person, my mother (Helen) encouraged me. She provided gentle and persuasive guidance. As an undergraduate student the chair of psychology (Dr. Saltzman) encouraged me to go to graduate school. During undergraduate school my biology professor (Dr. Holland) was also a wonderful advisor and mentor. Dr. Holland’s warm and caring advice to many others and me inspired us to high academic attainment. Dr. Holland’s door was always open to his students and his advice was always heart felt, intelligent and respectful. Dr. Holland’s reflective and dignified demeanor is something I’ve consciously tried to emulate in matters professional. During graduate school, I had the mentorship of Drs. Intons-Peterson and Kennon Shank. Since the beginning of my psychology career I’ve had the benefit of mentoring from Drs. Dietch and Clausman. It was Dr. Dietch who advised me about how to become a medical expert to U.S. Federal Judges. His advice worked, I have done such forensic consulting for over a decade now.

I have many wonderful stories to tell about my mentors and I am sure you do as well. Let’s not forget how others sacrificed time and effort to help us find a future we could be proud of.

Unfortunately, many young adults do not have mentors. They do not have academic mentors in their field of interest. The lack of academic, field specific, mentoring is especially true of underrepresented minorities, African Americans, Hispanic Americans and American Indians. I am hopeful that through’s website we can provide mentoring support to thousands of individuals.

Minorities are grossly underrepresented as incumbents in the best careers in America. In the top 240 careers in America, African American participation across careers is about 6%. And, in many top careers particularly in high paying science professions their participation is often less than 1%.

As a minority, I know first hand that the road traveled by minorities is often a bit bumpier. Caring, intelligent, culturally competent career guidance helps to pave a smoother path. There is no question in mind that mentoring will lead to greater minority career participation in America’s best jobs.

A few words, now, about It is an informational, motivational and educational website. We hope to intelligently encourage and support the aspirations of young people. The provision of mentoring advice is a crucial aspect of what we do. Our mentoring activity is computer based and is generally referred to as cyber-mentoring. However, because of the importance of face-to-face meetings, we will have several half-day seminars each year for subscribers. We hope to persuade young adults (college students) to strive for academic excellence. We want to help young adults prepare themselves for challenging graduate or professional school academic work. Ultimately, we want to help them prepare for challenging professional careers. We do not seek to replace other mentors in the lives of subscribers but we do intend to provide helpful additional information and guidance about academic matters and careers that mentees might find usable. We are not guidance counselors nor are we vocational advisors but we are trained in and work in the specialty area from which vantage point our advice flows.

Won’t you join us as a mentor?

Your mentoring role will be managed through our program coordinator. Questions asked about your field from subscribers will be tendered to you for your considered response. We will send your response to the subscriber and possibly post all or part of your response on the website for use by others as well. A mentoring advisory group (a committee of three mentors) will screen all advice to assure such advice is consistent with’s general philosophy. The mentor’s role will not include the responsibility of contacting subscribers. Site subscribers will not contact our mentors directly but through our website and through our program coordinator. will have timely e-mail contact with subscribers and to a lesser extent telephone contact between subscribers and its program coordinator. The benefits of following this communication strategy are obvious. In particular, it streamlines the mentoring process, reduces any communication burden beyond good and timely mentoring advice. Mentoring advice is based on knowledge and experience mentors have gained in their field of specialization. We do not ask mentors to do additional homework in responding to questions about the field. We are interested in the mentors’ personal and thoughtful answers to questions based on their accumulated knowledge.

Where appropriate, we will refer subscribers to links that provide “canned” advice. We do not ask our mentors for such “canned” advice. We do ask for career advice that is conversational, personalized, thoughtful and relevant to the identified needs of the subscriber. Subscriber profile information will act to assist the process. Over time we hope to have several mentors in each recommended professional field. This will allow our subscribers to pick and choose advice that seems most meaningful to them within their field of interest.

Mentoring advice will generally fall in the following categories: (1) undergraduate academic preparation for career, (2) admissions testing for graduate or professional programs (3) selecting a graduate, professional program (4) adjusting to the first year program requirements (5) building an academic and social support network / balancing social life and academic work (6) tips for program required examination sequences (7) completing requirements for graduate/professional programs (8) completing field licensure or certification requirements, if any (9) finding employment (10) professional associations and (11) career advancement. We expect that mentoring advice will vary depending of the specific experiences of our mentors and this variation will, in our judgment, be desirable to our subscribers. The common factor will be that all our mentors have successfully negotiated career hurdles leading to career success.

Our focus is largely on non-cognitive factors such as: 1) improving the amount and quality of direct career information, 2) strengthening students’ rationale for higher education pursuits, 3) helping students with goal and achievement strategy, 4) assisting them with progress monitoring and 5) offering them timely feedback and timely knowledgeable support. It is exactly these things that have been found helpful in the literature. These interventions provide the backdrop for minority academic excellence.

I ask that you join me in this important volunteer, altruistic venture to assist the next generation in their pursuit of professional careers.

Sincerely yours,

Jack E. Thomas, Ph.D., HSPP, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, CEO
Psychology Department, Martin University

* See Application Form
**See our top professional careers list.

Top careers are defined as (1) Typically requiring a Bachelor’s degree or more, (2) With Median Salary of $40,000 dollars or more (3) Typically, occupations employing a relatively large number of workers (50,000 or more) and (4) knowledge occupations that are growing and projected to grow at a moderate to high rate.

The completed Application is to be mailed to:

Dr. Jack E. Thomas
P.O. Box 8772
Bloomington, IN 47407-8772