When the pandemic hit, it could have been a big problem for Destiny Loyd. She is the senior program coordinator of the University of Georgia Mentor Program, which is based on building meaningful connections.
But for Loyd, it was just something to figure out so the Mentor Lab (Loyd and the rest of her team) could continue to elevate the quality of the program. “We like to say we move at the speed of business here in the Career Center,” said Loyd. “There’s always something up our sleeves that we’re looking forward to bringing to students.”
The Career Center as a whole was able to pivot quickly in providing all of its services to students online, said Loyd. “It’s been challenging not being able to help students in person,” she said. “But expanding the programming has had some happy side effects.” While the Mentor Program allowed students to connect virtually with mentors before the pandemic, Loyd said that with everything shifting to a virtual arena, they have invited even more alumni from across the globe to share their stories and experiences with students.
Loyd is always looking for new ways to connect with students. She and the 22 student UGA Mentor Program ambassadors set up Instagram and LinkedIn accounts to give the program a social media presence. And a new podcast, Real Talk, is coming soon featuring “authentic conversations” between students and UGA alumni mentors. (Loyd is a big fan of “Armchair Expert,” with Dax Shepard and UGA alumna Monica Padman.) Podcast topics will include personal growth through mentorship, being a student of color at a predominantly white institution, thriving as a first-generation student and impostor syndrome, to name a few.
“I came into this role excited about helping build community and helping students discover the value of intergenerational connections,” said Loyd. She is seeing that come to fruition from both sides. “I get to hear stories from students telling me these relationships are more than just trying to figure out what they want to do for a career, but really, figuring out who they want to be as a person. And I hear from mentors that they’re learning and gaining so much from their mentees, whether it’s just becoming reenergized in their career field or getting a new perspective.”
Loyd is quick to credit those around her for the success of the Mentor Program, including the ambassadors, graduate assistant Kanler Cumbass and her supervisor, Jeremy Daniel. “He’s been a phenomenal leader. He’s super innovative and always looking for ways that we can continue to improve this program,” she said, adding that it’s been rewarding to watch the team grow and learn together and be able to provide this resource for students.
“Our vision is that every student has a mentor in their corner before they leave UGA, and our mission is to foster a culture of mentoring across the university. So, we’re always looking to find ways to meet students where they are, transform lives one mentoring relationship at a time, and continue to strengthen the Bulldog family through mentorship.”