Combining theoretical knowledge with real-world experience

Austin Ambrose
May 18, 2017

Roberts, SteviEvi Roberts wanted to embrace every experience possible during her time as a graduate student in the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. Recognizing she missed opportunities during her undergrad years, she was determined not to repeat this mistake.

So when she became aware of the pilot mentor program at the school, she decided to enroll in it.

“I believed in Amista [director of external relations and strategic partnerships at the Voinovich School] to give me a good mentor,” Roberts said. “I knew it would be on me to make the most of the experience.”

Mike Adelman, president and CEO of Ohio Bankers League, had benefited from the guidance of a mentor during his college years. He wanted the opportunity to give back and share his perspective on the world. And as a graduate of the master’s in public administration (MPA) program and a member of the Ohio University Leadership and Public Affairs Advisory Committee, Adelman had a long history with the school.

“When I was approached about this pilot program I said, ‘Absolutely, include me in that,’” Adelman said. “I saw the value of those in the work world shepherding mentees.”

Paired with a mentor in the financial sector, Roberts was unsure if the match would work with her academic and career interests: analyzing health policies and determining their value to taxpayers. While Adelman does not have expertise in this specific area, he still helps Roberts in the overall field.

“He challenges my assumptions about the real world,” Roberts said. “I’ll learn something in class and we’ll discuss how it’ll play out in the world.”

This real-world applicability is one of the foundational values of the Voinovich School. Fusing the academic with the application distinguishes the School’s graduates, and the mentor program is another way for students to do that.

While the value added to the student experience is invaluable, the mentors also benefit from the relationship.

“I’ve gotten a different perspective now,” Adelman said. “I left OU in ’91 and there is a lot I’ve forgotten or haven’t thought about. As a male, I don’t have the same challenges as Evi, but learning from her pushes me to lead my organization better by seeing the world through her eyes.”