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Q&A: The Macy Undergraduate Leadership Fellows Program Through the Lens of Mentor and Mentee

June 25, 2015

The Macy Undergraduate Leadership Fellows program is a voluntary, for-credit leadership certificate program designed for undergraduate students in nursing and health professions. With a keen focus on leadership development, student participants are given a tool kit to enable them to address complex issues in a safe and inclusive environment. One such tool – and perhaps the most valuable – is mentorship. The impact of the relationship between a mentor and mentee is far-reaching, with both parties growing immensely from the experience of working together.

Sakinah Kidd, a junior nursing student and Fellow who has been involved in the program for nine months, and her mentor, Sheila Hess, director of Foundation Programs and Community Affairs at Independence Blue Cross Foundation who has been involved in the program for 10 months, give their unique perspectives on the relationship they’ve built and continue to nourish.

Off the Charts (OTC): Why did you choose to get involved in the Macy Undergraduate Leadership Fellows program?

Sakinah: I saw it as a great opportunity to enhance my leadership skills.  Little did I know I would learn so much more. I learned how to work with other disciplines and how to think through problems, situations and conflict from another perspective.  I was able to create bonds, build relationships and build a professional network that I will use as resource throughout my career.

Sheila: I have more than 23 years of corporate experience in healthcare, community involvement/civic engagement, philanthropy and nonprofit board leadership that I want to share with students to help contribute to the success of our future leaders who chose a career in health professions.

OTC: What is one thing being a part of the Macy Undergraduate Leadership Fellows program has taught you?

Sakinah: Leadership is not about being able to delegate, it's about being a part of a whole and recognizing when it's ok to let others take the lead. 

Sheila:  This experience just reinforces the goal that in order to provide the highest quality care, it is our role as leaders to support and strengthen the next generation of nurses and health professionals, through education, career development, research, networking and event opportunities. These students are an integral part of our current and future health care system, and their roles will continues to evolve. I was blessed to have been assigned as a mentor to a very compassionate and bright nursing student, Sakinah Kidd. I am humbled knowing that I can have an influence on her and other students, both personally and professionally, to encourage and help them achieve their fullest potential and to dream big and continue on with their education! This program emphasizes that one step for a successful career starts with relationship building, establishing partnerships and connections that will enhance your leadership development skills.

OTC: How has your mentor/mentee impacted you?

Sakinah: My mentor taught me the importance of building a professional network with people who know you and know what you desire. Sheila has given me opportunities to exercise my leadership skills and what I learned in the Macy Undergraduate Leadership Fellows program.  She has shown me that through hard work and dedication, you can achieve anything despite any and all challenges.  

Sheila: My career with the Independence Blue Cross Foundation and the organization’s mission of leading solutions for a healthier community align with Sakinah’s career aspirations. I was inspired by the legacy she wants to create for herself where others can say their lives changed for the better because of her work and efforts. Working with Sakinah on her assignments through the Macy Undergraduate Leadership Fellows program made me also take a step back and reflect on my own individual personal development plan and look at my future career path which I really haven’t done in a while. She inspired me.

OTC: What is a “fun fact” about your mentor/mentee?

Sakinah: She is a social butterfly and knows EVERYONE.  The first meeting we had, EVERYONE greeted her from at least two or three feet away with the biggest smiles, "Hi Sheila!"

Sheila: She originally studied cosmetology. She has a passion for fashion, loves shopping and is so stylish and classy. She even helps rehab houses in her spare time. She is a woman of all traits and loves to give back to others less fortunate, especially the homeless community. She also helped launch the “Samir Cares” campaign with her mom for her eight-year-old son, who wanted to help the homeless by collecting items, making care packages and hand delivering the bags amongst the homeless.  This volunteer opportunity exposed Samir to real-life situations and the challenges people face through the many social determinants we encounter in society today. I had the opportunity to meet Samir and Sakinah’s husband when we all attended a 76ers basketball game together. I felt like I was part of their family, they made me feel so welcomed.

OTC: What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned from your mentor/mentee?

Sakinah: It's not who you know, but who you know that knows what you know.

Sheila:  I learned that Sakinah has a very bright future as a nurse! She has set her goal and is determined to achieve it successfully. She is doing this through her time management skills, hard work and work life balance as Sakinah is a wife, mom, full-time student (on the Dean’s list), co-op at CHOP, mentee and a volunteer, giving back to those less fortunate in our community to enhance the quality of life for the underserved population. She wants people to see the passion she has for others. She will definitely leave a footprint in the world for the better good, and I am proud to say she is my mentee, and I learn from her every day.