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STUDENT: Megan Rupenski ’13, Special Education and General Education MENTOR: Leslie Loughmiller, assistant professor of Special Education The value of mentors: They can serve as a surrogate family member. “My family lives more than four hours away, and we rarely get to visit,” says Rupenski. “It is an overwhelming feeling of comfort to know that someone cares about me here.”

The backstory: In the world of education, a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t just limiting for students; it can be devastating. Rupenski credits mentor Loughmiller for helping her see the nuances between equality and fairness when working with her students. “She best explained it as she quoted [author and educator] Rick Lavoie: ‘Fair doesn’t mean giving every child the same thing; it means giving every child what [he or she] needs,’” she says. For Rupenski, that definition was transformative, because the needs of students in special education can vary so dramatically. “We must provide for each student’s needs in a way that leads him or her to success.”

Be flexible; you can’t control everything. STUDENT: Josh Chang ’14, Digital Media Management MENTOR: Gregg Perry, assistant professor of Digital Media Management The value of mentors: They have real-world insights. “Learning from a professor’s experience is crucial for gaining the perspective that will help for life after college,” says Chang. The backstory: In the summer of 2012, Chang went to France as part of the first-ever study abroad program for the Digital Media Management program. As with any new program, there were plenty of hiccups, but Perry helped students turn obstacles into opportunities. “[Perry’s] attitude

on being flexible and working around the conditions that arose was a morale booster for all of us,” Chang recalls. “There were always issues that came up — equipment malfunctions, being late, bad lighting,” recalls Chang. “But he used every ‘crisis’ as a teaching moment so we could have the best learning experience possible.”

webextra More Great Advice

Two more students share how their professors have inspired them. Read more at stedwards.edu/webextras. 15

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St. Edward's University Magazine Winter 2014