I entered law school with a passion for public service, heart for the disadvantaged, and complete ignorance as to how to incorporate my idealism into an actual career. I quickly found myself feeling overwhelmed and underqualified. Thankfully, around that same time, I stumbled into my first official legal internship under the direction of a man who was a wealth of knowledge and encouragement. Truthfully, if it wasn’t for Ron, I’m fairly certain I would have dropped out of law school and – well I’m not sure what I would have done because anything sounded better than being in law school!
But while I was ready to give up on myself and felt like I was trapped on a sinking ship, Ron only saw my potential. Rather than sticking me at a desk in a windowless room performing menial tasks–the kind so many of my classmates were doing–Ron brought me alongside him. Together we wrote motions, discussed cases, conducted interviews, and did research. Ron’s guidance not only provided me with the tools I needed to practically perform as an attorney, but he also explained to me the hows and whys of the work and rekindled my passion for helping others. More importantly, Ron taught me interpersonal skills that would transcend my legal career. His gregarious spirit and compassionate heart allowed him to impact lives daily, and I continually saw him respond to situations of unscrupulous behavior with immense grace. I have no doubt that I will carry the lessons I learned from my summer with Ron for the rest of my life.
The impetus of Cultivate was the desire to provide partners with the same type of mentorship I received from Ron. It is our hope that seasoned professionals will come alongside our partners to provide knowledge, support, and encouragement as our partners strive to make their visions a reality. As our partners grow under the guidance of provided mentors, it is our deep desire that they would then turn and become mentors within their local communities. This has been the case in my own life. Since meeting Ron, graduating from law school, and starting a career of my own, I have had the opportunity to mentor several other young women.
I’m the woman I am today because Ron took the time to notice and invest in me. Cultivate will allow others the chance to have a “Ron” in their life and experience the powerful encouragement of a positive mentor.
Julianne, the author, is a part of Cultivate’s Board of Directors.