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K-State Today

April 27, 2012



Successfully matched: Nearly 200 celebrate Executive Mentor Program's first year

By Olivia Blanco

A group of close to 200 gathered at the K-State Alumni Center recently to appreciate the executive mentors who are giving their time and expertise to students in the College of Business Administration.

The first year of the K-State Business Executive Mentor Program came to a close with the inaugural appreciation luncheon, where students, executive mentors, faculty and staff came together.

Kyle Landau, senior in marketing, accounting, finance and economics, from Leawood, and Erica Enlow, senior in finance and accounting, from Manhattan, emceed the event, which will be an annual gathering to appreciate the work of all executive mentors.

"The appreciation luncheon gave me the opportunity to see my mentee, as well as to network with business leaders who, like me, are dedicated to the college and the K-State Business Executive Mentor Program," said Jan Marks, executive mentor and chief executive officer of Varney and Associates CPA LLC in Manhattan. "I thoroughly enjoy being part of this program. Being a mentor to a business student is a wonderful opportunity to give back to the college and also to learn from the younger generation.”

The Executive Mentor Program is an initiative of the college started in fall 2011. Executive mentors are highly successful individuals with more than 10 years of experience, who give their time and expertise to students in the college. Already close to 150 matches have been made, with the goal of having 1,500 executive mentors.

Two awards were given during the luncheon. Katrina Brasfield, junior in accounting from Hutchinson, received the Mentee of the Year award. Her mentor, Tim Regan, chief financial officer and executive vice president for J.D. Heiskell and Co., nominated her for the honor.

"Katrina is by nature a very shy person. She knew this but yet took the steps to work on this shortcoming by being one of the first to sign up for the mentor-mentee program," Regan said. "I have introduced her to some of my colleagues and these connections appear to have led her to a summer leadership program. It has been very rewarding to discuss her career and schoolwork this past year.

Tony Pino, president and chief operating officer of Epoch MedPlans in Leawood, received the Executive Mentor of the Year award. His mentee, Patrice Lasley, sophomore in management from Kansas City, Kan. nominated him for the award.

"When I first met Tony, there was an instant connection," Lasley said. "Our common values and career goals make our mentor/mentee relationship unique. My involvement in the Executive Mentor Program has been one of the best professional experiences in my life. Mr. Pino has been a motivator and professional role model to me throughout this program. He has exposed me to a world of networking that I did not have before. His faithfulness to his title as a mentor has been beyond what is expected of a mentor."

The appreciation luncheon will be an annual event to give executive mentors, students, faculty and staff the opportunity to interact and strengthen their relationships.

"Our first Executive Mentor Appreciation Luncheon was a huge success," said Emily Brueseke, Executive Mentor Program coordinator. "It was great to see the students interacting with their mentors. Many of our pairs communicate long distance, but when I saw them together, it was as if they were old friends."

Executive mentors will have the opportunity to gather annually at two events. The fall event will be a tailgate before the football game on Sept. 8. The spring appreciation luncheon will be in April 2013.

"The appreciation luncheon and tailgate are terrific opportunities to have our executive mentors and mentees gathered in one place, networking and sharing their experiences in the program," said Ali Malekzadeh, Edgerley family dean of the College of Business Administration. "Our annual events will grow every year, making them an even bigger networking opportunity for everyone involved."