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Rebecca Daly Cofer, NACADA Emerging Leaders Program Mentor

Rebecca Cofer.jpgWhen I first considered applying for the Emerging Leaders Program through NACADA, I was torn between applying for the Emerging Leader role or the Mentor role.  It was actually my current mentor who encouraged me that I would be great in either position.  While attending the 2010 annual NACADA conference, I met Karen Sullivan-Vance in a NACADA leadership concurrent session.  Without my even asking, Karen offered to serve as my mentor, guiding me through not only NACADA but my own advising career.  Since this first encounter with Karen, I can honestly say that I am not quite sure where I’d be professionally without her guidance.  My desire to become an ELP mentor stems from my desire to help other NACADA members in the same way that Karen, and for that matter so many other NACADA members, helped me develop in my profession.  

The process to apply for the mentor position was not overly complex or even difficult.  The most difficult part of the application was deciding which role I wanted to serve in.  My mentor stressed analyzing each role and deciding which would benefit me most.  With slight reluctance, I decided upon the Mentor role.  I simply had to express, in written word, why I wanted the position and exactly what I could offer to an Emerging Leader.  Having a strong educational background in English and being a person who still loves to write, it was easy for me to write what NACADA meant to me and what it has done for me.  Future applicants should probably be prepared, though, to toot their own horn a bit in the application process.  For many of us advisors whose work is to help students, this task can be a challenge.  After completing the application, I sent it off to the appropriate email and waited for an answer, thinking that this application was just good practice in these types of processes.  I must admit that I really did not have a ton of confidence in my being chosen as an ELP Mentor.  Nonetheless, I was completely ecstatic when I received the email congratulating me.  Now I could give back to an organization that had given me stability and confidence, along with knowledge and life-long friends.  

Being the sometimes overly-organized person that I am, I completed the summer assignments almost immediately, drawing again on my love of writing.  The key in these assignments is to be honest and include as much information as possible.  I utilized the incoming class site to walk into the ELP orientation with a better sense of my classmates.  It was nice to not only have the classmates’ words to go by, but also have a picture of them for some future recognition.  I absolutely loved learning about advising passions, hobbies, and ideas for the future of NACADA.  I tried to visit the site as often as possible to keep posted on any new information updated.  By the time I walked into the ELP orientation being held prior to the annual conference, I knew most of the faces of my classmates.  

The ELP orientation not only introduced me to my fellow classmates, but also to the leaders of the program.  The orientation was, to be honest, much more fun and engaging than I had initially expected.  It consisted of a hilarious warm-up activity, a break out session with fellow mentors, and then a round of speed dating. 

ELP Icebreaker.jpg

I was most anxious about the speed dating aspect of the day, but the leaders of the ELP really gave the group specific instructions so that awkwardness never really occurred.  The partner for that round sat down, asked me some questions regarding my background and my personality and then before we knew it, the whistle was blown and the next partner started their round.  My advice for this portion of the orientation is to be open to others.  I went into the speed dating with two Emerging Leaders I thought I’d pair well with.  However, these preferences quickly faded, as I saw more connections with other Emerging Leaders I met in those few minutes.  In the end, I was paired with the perfect Emerging Leader (EL), someone I immediately connected with during the speed dating, Vanessa Harris, director of the University Advisement Center at the University of New Mexico.  The key here is to trust the process and the leaders involved in this process.  

I am now back in 2012-2014 ELP Class.jpgmy normal day to day job as an academic support counselor, but my “NACADA high,” as I like to term it, has not ended.  I have a new energy not only to help my EL reach her goals, but also to develop my own leadership skills in order to reach my own goals.  The reason I chose to be a Mentor in the ELP was to give back to NACADA, but it is already obvious that I will gain a great deal through the ELP process.  I am excited for what the next two years in the Emerging Leaders Program will bring.  

Rebecca Daly Cofer
Academic Support Counselor
Study Abroad Coordinator
Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College

Applications for the 2013-2015 ELP Class will be accepted beginning January 1, 2013.  Visit the Emerging Leaders Program section of the NACADA website to learn more about the program and find application materials.

Cite this article using APA style as:

Daly Cofer, R. (2012, December). “Me, an ELP mentor?”: From application to orientation. Academic Advising Today, 35(4). Retrieved from [insert url here]


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