“I don’t think mentoring is something that you try to go out and do to everyone you encounter because mentoring involves a willing participant,” said Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Digital Media at The Ohio State University-Mansfield Dr. Susan H. Delagrange.
January is National Mentoring Month, intended to promote youth mentoring in the United States. Delagrange learned that some of her former students from Richland Source viewed her as a mentor.
Delagrange briefly taught first year writing at The Ohio State University-Mansfield as an adjunct instructor, and then was asked to direct the newly computerized writing center.
Delagrange was director of the Writing Center from 1994-2005. In 1997, she decided to take a course at The Ohio State University in Columbus to touch up on some writing skills.
She had graduated from Akron University with a Masters Degree in English in 1972. “I got completely hooked with going to school again. I decided to apply for OSU’s Ph. D program and I was accepted,” said Delagrange.
In 2005, she became an Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Digital Media and then an Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Digital Media position. In 2012 she became the Director of Instructional Design and Technology and Director of Bromfield Information Commons.
Delagrange stated that she had always had an interest in digital media and referred to herself as a “computer person.” As the digital media world continued to grow at an increasing rate, she became fascinated by visual rhetoric and she began incorporating it into her classes.
When asked about teaching at OSU-Mansfield, she said, “One of the things that really appealed to me about the campus was that it was so specifically designed to serve the local community. I just hugely enjoyed working with the kinds of students who were not necessarily as prepared to go to college, but were just as intelligent, creative, and gifted. All of the faculty knows one another, works together, and socializes. It is a very tight knit community,” said Delagrange.
She noted that she is aware that she is often a mentor to her students and described how she tries to be influential when she finds students connecting with her on academic and broader topics.
"I think treating students as scholars is actually one part of that. Taking ideas seriously and then validating those things will help them be better,” said Delagrange.
Encouraging students to progress to the next level of success is one way she mentors students. "One definition of mentoring for me has to do with uncovering students' potential, with trying to provide the opportunity for excellence - personal, professional, and academic," she said.
"You've probably heard me say that 'Everyone in this room can get an A in this class,' and I mean it. And I'm not talking about an A for effort; I'm talking about an A for excellent work," stated Delagrange about her teaching.
"[Students] have always had to work but not as hard, except in spurts, and that is what I try to encourage people to do is to constantly push. You have to set goals in increments and that involves taking them seriously as scholars and capable thinkers,” she added.
Delagrange said that she thinks many students think they are doing the best they can, but she sees that they can do more and she offers her support.
"So my mentoring is giving students as much of my time and encouragement as they're willing to take – office hours, time before and after class, weekend studio hours – all of which enable me not just to help them make better "stuff," but to provide the kind of one-on-one encouragement and interest in them that buoys people up. So when someone calls me at 10 p.m. because they're stuck, or calls to tell me that I have to look,right now, at the digital project they just finished – I feel like a mentor," she explained.