Heather Ward ’17 VSB and Jacquelyn DiFabio King ’04 VSB

heather and Jacqueyn

1. What inspired you to join the VSB mentor program?    

“When I joined the Program, it was still in pilot mode and designed for women. I was really excited that VSB had put together this amazing program to help women students in a field where we still are a minority. I knew sophomore year would be a time to interview and make decisions about the path I wanted to take. So, I wanted to develop connections and get the perspective of a VSB alum who could provide guidance and share her own experiences.”

 – Heather

I always felt the Villanova culture developed a strong sense of family among its current students and alumni. I believe the VSB Mentor Program is a hallmark program which connects this Villanova family to help create and cultivate opportunities for both the mentor and mentee to learn, grow and develop personally and professionally. When I first saw the email requesting volunteer mentors, I knew I had to get involved. How I wished the Program existed when I was a student!”

– Jacquie

2.    How has your experience compared to your expectation?

“I have absolutely been blown away by this experience. I didn't know what to expect going in, but I knew I wanted a relationship where I could ask my mentor any question, both professional and personal. I think I've discussed every major decision I've had to make with Jacquie since we were paired. My relationship has been everything I could have wanted and more.”

– Heather

“My experience being a mentor has far exceeded my expectations. I thought most of the learning and growth would be by my mentee, but I can honestly say that I have learned so much, if not more, from Heather. When I signed up for the Program, I had no idea that a job change would be in my near future. Heather provided such great support and guidance as I interviewed and landed my dream job, and I hope I did the same for her while she interviewed for her summer internship.”

– Jacquie

3.     What makes your relationship a successful one?    

“At the mentor kick-off dinner, Jacquie and I set out expectations for how we wanted to establish our relationship. I think that was really critical. We knew right away that we were going to meet face–to-face once a month and connect through email in between. I think it's really important to immediately determine how you're going to get to know one another. We also understood that schedules won't always match up, so flexibility is key. Lastly, we work to make sure the relationship is mutually beneficial. We both joined the Program hoping to get something out of it, and we understand why we both wanted to become a mentor/mentee.”

– Heather

“I believe my relationship with Heather is a successful relationship because we both are committed to being open, honest and supportive of each other. We both make it a priority to meet monthly and talk about what's going on in our lives.”

– Jacquie

4. What has been the best part about having a mentor/mentee?    

“There are so many great things about having a mentor. It's hard to name them all. What stands out most to me is being able to get advice from someone who has directly been in my shoes and is now where I hope to be. Jacquie has been able to talk to me about decisions from a perspective that my family and friends are unable to offer.”

– Heather

“I really enjoyed staying connected to Villanova through this program and developed a very special, unexpected relationship with Heather.”

– Jacquie

5. Do you have a best practice to share with other pairs in the program?

“The best advice I can offer is to always communicate and set expectations early on. If possible, try to talk face-to-face in person or virtually. And, don't be hesitant to reach out! It can be intimidating at first, but your mentor wants to be there to help you so don't be afraid to use them as a resource.

– Heather

“From my personal experience, I would give the other Program participants and those considering the Program, three takeaways:

  1. Meet in person: While I know it's not practical - or even possible - for the mentor/mentees to meet face-to-face, I would encourage every pair to do so at least quarterly or talk via FaceTime or Skype (this was key for us when Heather studied abroad last semester). It truly is invaluable in developing your relationship.
  2. Be consistent: I would encourage the mentor/mentee pairs to set a consistent time to connect. Heather and I meet once a month for coffee on a Saturday morning alternating between a location close to her and one close to me. Before we leave, we set the date of our next meeting.
  3. Have fun: Enjoy cultivating your relationship and be open to where it will take you!”

– Jacquie