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Sellinger Graduate Mentor Program a 'game changer' for current MBA candidate

As part of the Sellinger School’s tradition of strong community connections, the Sellinger Graduate Mentor Program provides graduate students and alumni with one-on-one connections that contribute to the integrity, strength, and success of the personal and professional development of a protégé. When mentors and protégés are matched just right, the mentorship that begins in the program often extends beyond the set time frame and exceeds the expectations of both mentor and protégé. This was the case for Michael and Bichelle.

“Mentorship is tricky,” said Michael Gambuto, MBA ’14, Vice President of Call Center Operations at Anne Arundel Dermatology, and mentor in the Sellinger Graduate Mentor Program. He explained that “like all relationships there are degrees of chemistry and commitment. I always hope to meet students that have a hunger to learn while also realizing a strong match between their aspirations and my experiences.” Having received the gift of mentorship many times in his own career, Michael says he feels an obligation to pay it forward “since I can no longer pay it back.”

“I was nervous that my mentor and I wouldn’t be a good fit initially when I signed up, but decided to try it anyway,“ recalled Bichelle Jeffries, MBA candidate for the class of 2022, and Field Operations Manager at Agero. “I wanted to learn and gain wisdom from a tenured professional and grow both professionally and personally,” she said.

Based on their shared areas of interest, Bichelle’s eagerness to learn from seasoned professionals, and Michael’s proven dedication to his previous protégés, Michael and Bichelle just made sense to program coordinators, Susan Hassler, Assistant Dean for Business Programs and Charlie Hiebler, Associate Director Alumni Engagement. And despite beginning their mentor/protégé relationship during a global pandemic, the pair quickly developed the symbiotic connection they were looking for. “When there is a strong fit and a lot of the ideas you share are met with widening eyes and light bulb moments, I feel like I am having a real impact,” said Michael. Bichelle, in agreeance, explained that “[Michael] helped me think critically about where I want to go in my career and what steps I am taking now to set me up for success…I feel like I’ve grown a lot and have gained a lot of perspective since our first conversation.”

In the program, each mentor and protégé pair create a unique mentoring agreement. Wanting to get the most out of the experience as possible, Michael and Bichelle, chose to meet weekly. “We decided to meet weekly which allowed for us to build trust and understanding within our mentorship.” For Bichelle, these weekly calls over facetime were the most memorable part of the experience. “It’s great to have someone who understands where I am in my career and life and can give me perspective from a view that’s been through various relatable things in their career,” she said. 

When it comes to advice for those thinking about joining the program, Michael explained that “Access to advanced professionals can be challenging to gain…This program relies on the trust and mission of Loyola University to circumvent that obstacle, giving students a straight line to those leaders and their experiences. That kind of access is invaluable.” Bichelle added “Do not question it—just sign up! This program is a game changer and you will have a mentor beyond just the program.”

After several weeks of facetime, the pair was excited to actually get to to meet up face-to-face in Boston at the beginning of the summer. 

Mentor Michael Gambuto and Protégé Bichelle Jeffries standing together in Boston during their first face to face visit

The Sellinger Graduate Mentor Program is exclusively available to Sellinger students in the Professional’s MBA, Emerging Leaders MBA, or Master of Accounting programs. Learn more about applying for the program a mentor or protégé and apply by October 15, 2021.