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The Art of Mentorship


Mentorship fosters growth and nurtures potential; nowhere is that more evident than at Stetson University. From Greek life, to the school of music, to the admissions office – the atmosphere of encouragement on campus influences the experiences where one person becomes the stepping stone for another’s journey. 


Greek life values the tradition of big/little. This program has more experienced members (bigs) take newer members (littles) under their wing, showing them the ropes of the sorority/fraternity. Though a duo may only be together for a few years, it can end up being a lifelong friendship despite the potential distance after graduation.


Sarah McCullom ’25, a psychology major and her big, Maddie Bell, who graduated in May of ’23 with a degree in environmental science are a perfect example of this relationship. In the Alpha Chi Omega sorority, the pair became big/little out of pure instinct. Three days before the final submission for who she wanted her little to be, Bell had an instinct that she was meant to spend more time with McCullom. Shortly after, they attended a one-on-one new member introduction meeting to De La Vega, a Latin American restaurant, in Downtown DeLand. 


“It instantly clicked,” McCullom stated with a smile on her face. “It was like our personalities, just meshed.” After bonding over Taylor Swift and Executive positions, the two learned to merge the lines between mentorship and friendship. “It’s somebody to hang out with,” McCullom said. “It’s that person that’s going to mentor you and be that person that you can look up to but then also get along with. Our relationship formed into a relationship where we’re best friends now.”


For Bell, being a mentor meant also investing in self-care and growth so that she could be the best version of herself for McCullom. 

“It didn’t really feel like I was a mentor looking back,” Bell said. “I guess that someone’s always looking up to you for something. I wanted to steer Sarah in the right direction… I want to be a good role model for her.”


Whether it was showing up for a sorority meeting even when she was having a bad day, or going to her classes on days when it was tempting to skip, Bell always showed up for McCullom and continues to show up for her even though she lives almost 950 miles away in Pittsburg, PA. She is now working for a civil engineering firm as a geology technician. 


“We definitely don’t FaceTime once a day, even once a week, sometimes we probably go a month without FaceTiming,” McCullom said as she looked toward Bell. “There’s never any concern with that. We’ll pick up where we left off.” 


The connection between mentor and friend isn’t unique to Greek life. This is also evident in the music program with music majors Carlissa Gudiño ’27 and Julianna Tuttle ’24. This pair plays the French horn in the Symphonic Band and mellophone in the Pep and Hatter Bands. 


From random McDonald’s trips to laughing over South Park, the pair have based their relationship on working hard and playing harder. 


The duo loves to dance and occasionally poke fun at the rival team during Hatter Band. However, they always come back to the unity their music provides. The School of Music has different graduation requirements than other majors and programs. With this in mind, Tuttle never thought of herself as a leader– it was always just part of a tradition. 


“We just take all the wisdom from the people, who I remember my freshman year, the seniors and just keeping those ongoing,” Tuttle said. “Just making sure everybody knows [what they’re doing].”


These efforts did not go unnoticed. Having a mentor is essential to staying on track- and Gudiño felt that support. 


“She really took me underneath her wing,” Gudiño said. “She sits next to me and always helps me with the pep band.” 


The School of Music also provides many opportunities for students to gain leadership experience. For example, Tuttle is the School of Music student advisor counselor to the Dean. Her responsibilities primarily focus on advising the first-yearclass of music students.

d“She’s such a natural-born leader,” Gudiño said enthusiastically.


Gudiño hopes to follow in Tuttle’s footsteps as she works towards the same position.

“[I told her] just be authentic and [her]self,” Tuttle said. “It’s really about putting others before you and making sure that the next group of people coming into The School of Music is going to have the same or even better experience that you did.”


The guidance provided by these mentors bringing in the next generation of Stetson students doesn’t stop there. These relationships highlight how family-orientated Stetson is in its values, and nowhere is that more displayed than with the admissions staff. Take Admissions Assistant Lexi Trapp ’23 and Director of Admissions Shannon Greeley ’14, MBA ’21. 


To say Trapp was involved on campus would be a profound understatement. Trapp first became involved in the pre-law fraternity, Phi Alpha Delta. This became the introduction to every organization that she ended up being a part of. She was a part of Model Senate, FOCUS Orientation, Omicron Delta Kappa, Psi Chi, Environmental Club and most noticeably captain of Student Ambassadors. 


Every week, Trapp maxed out her hours, working 20 hours a week. Her dedication and enthusiasm for future hatters and the success of Stetson did not go unnoticed. 


“There had always been, since I started working in ambassadors, comments, jokes made,” Trapp said. “Like, ‘when you graduate, you gotta come back and work for us at some point.’”


Though a hopeful dream, this seemed unlikely as Trapp has ambitions to pursue law school. There would realistically be no time before she went to law school to dedicate herself to the admissions staff. Though, that was until Trapp graduated early. 


“I have this really weird gap between right now where I’m not in school, versus all the way until August when I’m going to be in law school,” Trapp said happily. “I feel like student ambassadors set me up to be able to be in the position that I’m in now.”


Despite the prior comments and jokes about Trapp getting a job after graduation, there wasn’t a job available in admissions. So as her mentor, Shannon Greeley created a job for her.


“Her willingness to always help in the office is evident,” Greeley said. “I was like [to Trapp] you love this place a lot. I wanted to help her in her downtime while also helping the university.”


More than anyone, Greeley would understand the familial impacts that are cultivated at Stetson. She graduated from Stetson with her Bachelor of Science in biology and later was hired as an admission recruiter due to her student life involvement including tour captain. From there, she worked her way up the ranks of the admissions office to Director of Admissions. 


Thanks to Greeley’s guidance, Trapp now continues to max out her hours, working 40 a week, on top of her preparations for law school which she will be attending in the Fall 2024 semester. Greeley understands the importance of being well-balanced and encourages Trapp to have fun in her time working for admissions. 


“She is so big on not burning out in a job,” Trapp said. “And she’s told me that too, she’s like, this job does not need to be a burnout for you. This job needs to be a relaxation for you, that you get to come in, you get to see a bunch of people who you love to be around and love to be around you.”


Having been through this  before, Greeley knows how to support her and the entire admissions team.


“I was really burned out when I was a recruiter,” Greeley said, “What’s grown as I’ve become a leader is being able to listen, while also having the team listen to themselves.”


In the event Trapp considers being employed in admissions in her far future, she would be open to the possibility of coming back to Stetson. 


“I just want to come back and be a Shannon,” Trapp said laughing. “I wouldn’t take her position. At that point, she’ll be president of Stetson.” 


Stetson University embodies a culture of mentorship that transcends boundaries across Greek life, the School of Music and the admissions office. Through programs like big/little and the guidance of mentors like Julianna Tuttle and Shannon Greeley, the university fosters a sense of collaboration and growth. These narratives echo the ideals of fostering talent and nurturing potential, showcasing that Stetson students, both past and present, are committed to cultivating excellence in all aspects of their community.

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Sara Ward
Sara Ward, Staff Writer

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