Mentors and mentees come in diverse genders, races, and sexual orientations, says Mailee Kue, Ph.D., Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs & Title IX Coordinator. Kue relishes the challenge of engaging in broader diversity discussions. In recounting her decade-old recognition that she was mentoring women to the exclusion of men, Kue says, “I now put myself out there for men as well as women; men have to put themselves out there as well [as mentors].”
Kue, as a senior administrator at Bryant, is able to make a positive impact on campus student life, with the PwC Center for Diversity and Inclusion offering a rich and robust panoply of diverse programs for significant cohorts of Bryant students – communities representing interfaith, intercultural, female, and LGBTQ individuals. Bryant students "may not have been exposed to a leader who looks like me; I work hard to personalize my experiences,” she says. “I hope they see me as someone with skills, identity, and personality … who can be inspirational and thoughtful.”
“I truly feel part of the Bryant community, where the faculty collaborates across departments. I’m part of a larger team that makes students’ experiences fulfilling.”
Good mentors are clear about their expectations and aware of their own strengths and limitations, says Kue, who finds that appropriately disclosing her own vulnerabilities as a woman leader makes her a more effective mentor. “Being a mentor is like being an ally; use inclusive language, be willing to listen and to understand,” suggests Kue, who in 2017 received the Zenobia Hikes Memorial Award from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators for her extraordinary commitment to advancing women in higher education and to student affairs.
Kue recognizes that everyone – regardless of gender, race, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, and any other identity – seeks dignity and respect. “I work from that position; I listen and understand so that I don’t misrepresent anyone.” In 25 years of working with diversity issues and advocating for the needs of marginalized individuals, Kue discovered that some people may interpret that advocacy for one group may be at the exclusion of another, when, in fact, helping those who feel disenfranchised actually makes communities stronger and more welcoming for all.
Mentoring is not perfect, and mentors need not have all the answers; instead, they share their lived experiences. It’s a 50-50 relationship; mentees must learn to apply those experiences to their own lives. If we’re all more intentional about mentoring both female and male students, we can stretch our skills and change communities, adds Kue.