Alumni Mentor Stewardship Event

Saloon, Provost's House

18 June 2019


Good evening, and welcome everybody.

This is the first ever Alumni Mentor Stewardship Event. We trust it will become an annual event. It’s so important that we take this time to thank you for your wonderful contribution to the college and our students.

In Trinity, we’re dedicated to preparing our students for dynamic careers and responsible citizenship. We’re not just training students for their first jobs; we’re giving them the skills, resilience and creativity which they will need to build fulfilling careers and lives in a rapidly changing world.

Our educational mission aims to give students opportunities inside the lecture room, and outside - in clubs and societies, in acceleration programmes, in volunteering, in studying abroad and the myriad other activities which help to embed the Trinity Graduate Attributes, which are:

  • To Think Independently,
  • To Communicate Effectively,
  • To Develop Continuously, and
  • To Act Responsibly

We believe that these attributes will help students succeed in 21st century life and work.

The college-wide Alumni Mentorship programme was established in 2017 – though some individual Schools have more long-standing programmes. Already it has become one of the key ways in which we embed the Graduate Attributes.

This programme speaks for itself. ‘Mentoring’ is a powerful word, which conveys the imparting of knowledge and experience – generally, though not invariably, from one generation to the next. Education comes from the Latin ‘to lead out’. Mentoring is intrinsic to Education – it is a two-way process: the mentee draws out knowledge from the mentor, and in turn, the mentor draws out the mentee’s potential.

Mentors are graduates who have achieved in fields that interest the students and who have experience managing teams, self-starting, setting up abroad, getting published, raising money, and all the other things that students dream of.

Most of us can remember the anxiety we felt as students around entering the world of work. It was a mystery to us. How to use our learning in a professional capacity? How to apply for jobs? How to perform in interviews? How to know what questions to ask potential employers? How to think about salary? How to keep building our skillset?

These are not trivial questions. Knowing how to transition from college to the workplace can make all the difference between a brilliant career and under-achievement. And the workplace today is more challenging, because more transitional, then when I was a student. We owe it to our students not just to teach them how to ‘think’ but also how to ‘act’ – how to get things done in the world.

Graduates are ideally placed to help with this transition. Not only because they can draw on experience and contacts, but because they embody successful transition. They provide reassurance that a Trinity Education can be a springboard to fulfilment in all kinds of careers, anywhere in the world. 

Mentors are vital for the practical experience they impart – from how to give a professional presentation to the skills of networking, from information-gathering to making contributions at business meetings.

Just as important, by their very action of returning to college to volunteer their experience, alumni mentors embody responsible citizenship and the concept of ‘giving back’. Students, either consciously or unconsciously, register the generosity of their mentors and I believe this has a profound effect on how they will conduct themselves in life and the workplace.

I don’t know if there is research to back me up, but I believe that those who have experienced positive mentoring are more likely to be generous to younger colleagues when their turn comes. We all remember adults who went out of their way for us and made a huge difference. The right help at the right time can be transformative. Having benefitted from it, we are moved to try and make such a difference ourselves.

‘To act responsibly’ is one of our four graduate attributes. Alumni mentors are ‘acting responsibly’ to the next generation. They lead by example.

Over 300 alumni have actively participated in mentoring programmes in Trinity this year and over 600 students have been positively impacted. Over 90% of students and alumni found the mentoring programme beneficial and would recommend it.

We are extremely fortunate to have such dedicated alumni. We don’t take you for granted. I want to thank each and every one of you for giving your time to the next generation of Trinity students. We know that this university could not do as well as it does without the support of our graduates worldwide.

Mentoring is a two-way experience. Mentoring enables you to stay deeply connected to your university, and it enables you to improve other people’s lives by sharing your experience. I know that this is deeply rewarding. One mentor put it eloquently, saying:

“Mentoring evokes your own experiences as an undergraduate and you are giving back to the college that enhanced your life.”

Mentoring is relatively a new programme for the college. It is made possible through collaboration between Trinity Development and Alumni, TDA, the Careers Service and many of the Schools. I thank all involved in enabling this programme.

This Trinity mentoring programme was established just two years ago. We hope that it will grow and bring many more alumni and students together.

Just six weeks ago, we launched the first comprehensive philanthropic campaign in the history of the university, a campaign we’re calling ‘Inspiring Generations’.

This Campaign is encouraging our graduates and friends globally to support Trinity’s initiatives in education, research, and public engagement. The Campaign highlights capital development projects, including a new Law School and a pioneering Engineering, Environment and Emerging Technologies Institute, E3. And it’s underpinned by a ‘New Generations’ programme to bring the best global talent to teach and research in Trinity, and to create more pathways to the Trinity Access Programme.

Our goals are ambitious but achievable: we want to raise 400 million euro, and to inspire 150 thousand hours of volunteering from the Trinity community worldwide.
That’s a lot of hours! But we’re confident in our alumni. The Trinity Mentoring Programme is part of what gives us this confidence. All of you have already contributed to our ambitious goal through your efforts this year. You are in the vanguard, if you like, of the new spirit which we are inspiring in our community.

I would like it to become second nature for every Trinity graduate to stay deeply connected to the university and, in the course of their careers, to ‘give back’, whether through financial support, mentoring, coaching, fund-raising, serving on boards of committees of clubs and societies.

It’s through the dedication, passion and commitment of all in our community – staff, students, graduates – that we will continue to progress the great education, research and creativity that has such impact in Dublin, Ireland and the world.

On behalf of the university, I thank you all. I thank and congratulate you for being part of Inspiring Generations, before it was ever launched to the world. I hope the experience of mentoring has been enriching and that you will continue to act as mentors to new generations of undergraduates. I hope your mentees of the past year will do you proud. I’m sure they will!

Now is an exciting time for Trinity. I hope you will stay involved and be part of the work of this great university as it goes from strength to strength.

Many thanks.

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