Honors Mentor Council

Mentor Program shield


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, 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. In all three aspects, council members gain a good deal of experience with strategic planning, decision making, and teamwork within a larger organization.

Council members gain opportunities that go far beyond the usual mentor experience, as they identify and hone skills necessary for large-scale leadership. 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. Ultimately, council members have an opportunity to impact their community and the Honors curriculum in profound ways.


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.

2017 Mentor Council Testimonials

Katie Wilkinson
Katie Wilkinson – Mentor Council President

On the Council, I have tackled questions of large-scale leadership and how to motivate groups as small as five people to an entire program of more than eighty individuals. It has not been easy, but it has been rewarding. The time and effort are well worth it. 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. I have learned to tailor my leadership style to meet the needs of an organization while still maintaining my signature approach to collaboration and team environments. At the same time, I have expanded my leadership vocabulary and exposure to different types of leadership. I have a firmer understanding of what techniques or strategies work best in given situations. Moving forward, I know I am more prepared to address concerns in team and social environments both in my personal life and professional career.

As the President, I have a unique top-down perspective of the Mentor Program and the possibility to learn from it. Consider the difference between walking on a lively, crowded city street and surveying the bustle below from a balcony or even rooftop view. From this position, I have the ability to identify potential obstacles to the program’s success and rectify them. Simultaneously, I can see mentors’ bubbling excitement and find ways to incorporate their passion back into the program to cultivate a community in which members can thrive.

Ryan Wollensak
Ryan Wollensak – Mentor Council Member and HLC Representative

This past year has been an experience that has taught me how to leverage problems as opportunities, deal with large-scale systems thinking, and use cross-organizational communication. Each of these skills were learned through working in a team of six members and formulating ways to positively impact a community of 80 emerging leaders. My favorite take away from this past year was the stake I had in creating a sustainable culture built off reinforced shared values. 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.

Along with learning through the Mentor Council, I also learned as a representative on the Honors Leadership Council (HLC). This is a position available for all Mentor Council applicants that provides opportunities to learn about cross-organizational communication. In this role, one acts as a liaison between the two organizations. In my time, I connected the goals of the Mentor Council to the objectives of HLC. This position provided a unique way for me to invest in the Mentor Program as well as become more involved in the Honors College.

Gabby Weinert
Gabby Weinert – Mentor Council Member; Community & Outreach

As a member of the Mentor Council, I have had the opportunity to build upon critical leadership skills, such as working within a group setting efficiently, organizational skills, and timeliness. Just as it can be a struggle for mentors to learn how to lead and work within a group of high-achieving individuals, working on the Mentor Council is the same. 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. Personally, I had to work on more of my organizational skills and was able to build upon those. These are all tools I will carry forth with my into future leadership positions in order to create a productive environment for my team and myself.

My role on the Council has been as the Summit Initiative (SI) leader. This is an initiative run completely by the Council, which helps new mentors feel as welcome and prepared as possible for their first semester in the Mentor Program. As the SI leader, I am responsible for pairing new mentors with more experience mentors, and keeping track of meetings held throughout the semester.

Antonia Roach
Antonia Roach – Mentor Council Member; Event Coordinator

Since being a member on the Mentor Council, I have gained further experience in planning large-scale events, leading large groups of students, and applying specific goals to a range of tasks. My leadership style developed further into that of transformative leadership. I have become better at uplifting, supporting, and aiding others in order to better the success of the group as a whole. My time on the Council provided me with opportunities for continuous growth in the Mentor Program in the areas of public speaking, goal development, and event planning. Further, the Council is a place where strategic planning takes place in order to provide all of the mentors with a rewarding experience. Through this planning, I learned the value executive work has for the experiences of the mentors we served.

As Events Coordinator, I was the main point of contact for the events the Mentor Council hosted. This entailed gathering supplies, helping to advertise, and creating plans for different locations. Even though my role has a defined jurisdiction, on the Council, there are tasks that do not fall under a defined role. Not only does this require Council members to practice flexibility but it also allows Council members to tap into and enhance other skills. For example, I was able to work with artistic interests in developing a design for the t shirts. Being able to cover a role’s tasks as well as help out when possible results in individuals who exhibit a high level of adaptability and creativity.

Quazi Fairooz
Quazi Fairooz – Mentor Council Member; Treasurer

I joined the Honors Mentor Program for the opportunity of gaining leadership experience while learning through the exclusive HONR 19901 classes, but truth be told I found so much more here. When the 8 week program ended last year I still wished to remain part of it and opportunity knocked on my door in the form of the Mentor Council. I was the treasurer for the Council and my roles included deciding on a budget for certain events, updating the budget sheet for everyone to follow and also purchasing snacks for the events. I chose the traditional role of a treasurer to remain an active part of the Council. The role brought in responsibilities as well as chances to better bond with the Council members. Our first main event was the recruitment, which included campaigns, callouts and interviews. It was a great opportunity to acquire perspectives of an interviewer for a change. From my journey as an honors mentor I have learned a great deal about my own leadership attributes and even though I sometimes had my doubts, my Council members have been of great support. I feel like that’s one of the best things about being part of the program, that one is surrounded by intellectuals of their own caliber; it helps them better adapt to arduous situations.

Sophia Paul
Sophia Paul – Mentor Council Member

I am a sophomore studying industrial engineering with minors in Spanish and psychology. I am in the GEARE Program at Purdue, which allows me to spend a semester studying abroad as well as a chance to work internationally. In the future, I hope to incorporate my love of horses and traveling into my life and career. My favorite part of being in the Honors College is having the opportunity to meet the many driven, hardworking and diverse students who make up this great community. I loved being a mentor last semester and developing a connections with more Honors College professors and students. This year, I am thrilled to be a part of the Mentor Council and hope to continue building this community of strong individuals and meeting new Honors College students in the Fall 2017 semester!

Dr. Watkins
Dr. Adam Watkins – Mentor Council Faculty Advisor

In addition to being a new parent, I also conduct research on self-formation and cognitive development from a cultural perspective.  In other words, I am deeply interested in how we become who we become.  To this end, I teach interdisciplinary classes on the mind, play, human sciences, and creativity. I also work alongside the Mentor Council in creating an exciting program where Honors students experiment with leadership and collaboration. The most exciting part is watching students take charge of their of their own development, as they begin to realize who they are, who they want to become, and how they will become it.

How to Become a Mentor Council Member

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.

The Mentor Council President is selected from previous Mentor Council members, based on prior experience and an application. Council Members and the President begin their terms at the start of the Spring semester and continue through the end of the Fall semester, allowing them to select and train their own mentor cohort.