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Leslie Gutierrez
June 24, 2021

13 Mentors and Counting through Berry’s Culture of Mentorship

As Leslie Gutierrez ’22, a psychology major, completes her final year at Berry, she can count a total of 13 mentors (2 faculty, 6 staff, 1 student, 2 alumni and 2 community members) who have offered advice and support.

With plans to pursue a master’s degree in clinical or forensic psychology, Leslie is minoring in applied behavior analysis (ABA), the primary evidence-based treatment for autism spectrum disorder. “The psychology major at Berry encourages you to explore different careers through different classes you are required to take,” she says. “I connected with Dr. Thom Ratkos, my first ABA professor, in my freshman year. He’s now my academic advisor.”

Leslie is also minoring in Spanish and forged a strong relationship with Associate Professor of Spanish Julia Barnes, who chairs the department of world languages and cultures. “I want to continue using Spanish so I can help people who might not be fluent in English,” she says.

Through a series of LifeWorks positions with the department of student financial services, Leslie has risen to the position of student supervisor and received the 2020–21 Wayne Rollins Student Worker Award. She notes that she’s accumulated transferable skills useful in her future: “Coming in, I was fairly shy. Interacting with families and talking them through the payment process improved my communication and people skills. Every family’s situation can be unique, so along with communication, problem-solving was something this job taught me. Being patient, understanding and empathetic is crucial.”

Leslie points out that she has a variety of mentors, even if they are not direct supervisors. Senior financial aid counselor Juanita Bahena stepped into this role early on. “I consider her a great mentor I can always count on. She supports and guides me professionally and personally,” Leslie explains. “Through the Berry Center for Integrity in Leadership, I was part of a group of student leaders who shared a mentor from the community. He guided our group on how to grow and be better leaders in and outside of Berry.”

As Berry students flourish in their college careers, they mentor peers. “Through the Gate Scholarship, I have been able to be a leader and mentor for the incoming freshmen in our program,” Leslie says. “The mentor groups strive to help first-year Gate Scholars get adjusted to academics, work and personal life.” She’s also coached students as a lead teacher in the English as a Second Language Program and as a Berry ambassador for the admission office.

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