Universities foster community – in classes, residence halls, chapel, and communal dining and recreation areas. Students are linked by common activities and expectations. But what happens when we graduate?
Post-graduation, finding a supportive community requires much more intentional effort. The transition can be jarring. Fortunately, Christian professionals who recognize the need for support are helping create a smoother transition for new alumni.
EDGE Mentoring works to build meaningful relationships by allowing emerging Christian leaders to learn from older believers. “Our vision is equipping the next generation of godly leaders,” says Executive Director Dave Neff.
Dave graduated from Ball State University (’07). He is EDGE’s first full-time Executive Director and a mentee himself. “I can point to my involvement with EDGE in my twenties as the single biggest influence on my development,” he says. The program has helped him blend his personal habits and disciplines and his professional aspirations and faith into one fully integrated approach to life.
To equip godly leaders, EDGE relies on a national network of mentors and mentees spanning over 30 states. Mentees are typically 22-32 years old and recent alumni of traditional undergraduate programs. EDGE places them in groups of 5-7, which are based on gender to ensure propriety. “We try to put a lot of thought and intentionality into who goes into a group together,” Dave explains.
EDGE’s high quality, high caliber mentors are also carefully selected. Mentors usually have upwardly mobile careers, are over the age of 35, and exhibit excellent personal and family leadership skills outside the workplace.
Due to geographic limitations, participants communicate over bimonthly teleconference or videoconference calls, using the EDGE curriculum as a guideline. “We also set the expectation that mentors invest in their mentees in a one-to-one manner – connecting over coffee, e-mail, text, phone, etc.,” adds Dave.
Mentors and mentees agree to a one-year commitment, but Dave notes, “We have over a 90% retention rate after the first year. I think people stick with it because we all want to be part of something bigger than ourselves.” Dave’s group has been together for five years now.
Dave says EDGE’s goal is not to be the biggest national mentoring program but the most impactful. And he hopes to impact IWU. EDGE representatives are happy to connect with those interested to educate seniors about the program.
Recent or emerging IWU alumni who want to become an EDGE mentee – or previous IWU grads who want to help raise up the next generation of professional Christian leaders – are welcome to attend or go on-line to apply for EDGE Mentoring.
Written by Megan Emily. Megan is a senior English/Writing major and member of the John Wesley Honors College. She operates Earthworms, a blog about finding hope and security.