Take your leadership to the next level, join the Honors College Mentor Council

Are you ready to take your leadership to the next level? In addition to offering many introductory leadership opportunities, the Honors College further hones and develops existing leadership skills with our multi-layered academic leadership programs. One of those, the Mentor Council, is now seeking its next round of members.

“The time and effort are well worth it,” Mentor Council President Katie Wilkinson said. “I have sincerely enjoyed the opportunity to investigate what makes people tick and how to leverage these traits to enhance their overall experience as a mentor and to garner greater program participation.”

Through participation in the Mentor Council, Wilkison says she learned to tailor her leadership style to meet the needs of an organization, while still maintaining her signature approach to collaboration and team environments. At the same time, she expanded her leadership vocabulary with exposure to differing leadership styles. Click HERE to watch a video of Mentor Council members talking about their experience.

The Mentor Council has two primary goals: to promote leadership development within the Mentor Program and to strengthen the Honors Mentor community. In this effort, Mentor Council members have a great deal of personal agency, while also receiving guidance from the Mentor Council President and the Director of the Mentor Program. In the spring, Mentor Council members coordinate the mentor hiring process, help with selections and welcome the new cohort to the program through the Legacy Event. In the fall, they assist with mentor orientation and training events. Beyond this, each year the council works collaboratively to identify a particular set of values that they want bolster within the program, and they coordinate a small but effective set of initiatives, events and other strategies to promote those values.

Honors College Mentor Council members are selected through an application process that occurs in the second half of the fall semester. All previous mentors who are committed to returning the next year are eligible to apply. Please reach out to Dr. Adam Watkins, Director of the Mentor Program, if you wish to apply (aewatkin@purdue.edu). This year’s application deadline is Friday, November 17. You can learn more about the Mentor Council at an information session Thursday, Nov. 9 between 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. in the Honors College North Lobby.

“I have had the opportunity to build upon critical leadership skills, such as working within a group setting efficiently, organizational skills and timeliness,” Mentor Council member Gabby Weinert said. “The six of us all have unique skill sets and interests, and learning how to divide and conquer based on those attributes was key for us.

Mentor Council members go far beyond the usual mentor experience, as they identify skills necessary for large-scale leadership. According to Mentor Program Director Adam Watkins, they gain a deeper appreciation for how leadership works from an institutional perspective and across a larger population – a significant departure from leading small groups.

“Mentor council members have a scope of influence that very few students ever experience: they help select and empower 80+ peer mentors, and through these mentors they impact the first-year experience of over 500 students each year,” Watkins said.  “Ultimately, council members have an opportunity to impact their community and the Honors curriculum in profound ways.”

“My favorite take away from this past year was the stake I had in creating a sustainable culture built off reinforced shared values,” Mentor Council member Ryan Wollensack added. “Coming into the year we set out to use praise and positive reinforcement to create a more inclusive environment. The use of these techniques promoted a stronger community and taught leadership through a non-traditional perspective. In my opinion, the behavior will propagate and lead to success in the program for years to come.”


Council members begin their yearlong tenure in January and are expected to dedicate two hours a week to their efforts throughout the Spring and Fall semester. The workload is higher the week of mentor interviews in February and the first week of class in the Fall, as members help plan and run the orientation and training events. Part of this commitment includes biweekly meetings where council members coordinate their efforts with the Mentor Council President and receive further training. It is also assumed that Mentor Council members will participate in the Mentor program in the Fall semester.

Additionally, the council attends an exclusive, two-day leadership retreat at Camp Tecumseh in the spring. During their stay, they continue to explore and develop their leadership mission. The experience helps council members recognize what it means to lead in partnerships with other strong leaders. In addition, the dedicated time to focus on one’s growth is not only fun and exciting, but an opportunity to bond with their team.


In achieving their mission, Mentor Council members take on specific roles. That said, the council is highly collaborative, so members often share in the roles of others and thus gain similar skills.

  • Event Planning (2): Two council members focus on planning and coordinating major events, including the mentor interviews, legacy event, orientation, and training. These members have the opportunity to hone their organizational and strategic planning skills while ensuring events meet their intended goals and proceed smoothly.
  • Community & Outreach (2): Two council members focus on bolstering the Honors Mentor community through media and initiatives. These members rely heavily on their interpersonal, motivational, and organizational skills.
  • Honors Leadership Council Representative (1): One council member acts as a representative with the HLC. In this effort, they have a unique opportunity to facilitate common understanding between these key leadership structures as well as collaboration towards larger community goals.
  • Treasurer (1): The treasurer works closely with the Mentor Council President to maintain a clear and accurate view of the council’s monetary and other resources. The treasurer is also responsible for keeping the Mentor Council accountable and on track to achieve its goals, whether during meetings or in general.