Mapping the art of mentoring

- John Threlfall

Given that I’ve worked on campus for less than two years, it was a surprise to be asked to participate in UVic’s Mentoring Program. But when 18-year campus veteran Sandra Curran applied to the program, I turned out to have all the skills she wanted in a mentor. "I was looking to spend time with someone working in a creative position on campus, and to find opportunities to add creativity to my job," says Curran, who has spent much of the past decade as the graduate secretary for the School of Child and Youth Care.

After her initial interview with Human Resources Consultant and Mentoring facilitator Jolie Wist, I was approached about acting as Curran’s mentor. While I was uncertain exactly what I could contribute, I did seem to fit the creativity bill—as anyone who’s ever visited my eclectically decorated office can attest. But it was more likely my position as special projects and communications officer with the Faculty of Fine Arts that sealed the deal. Yet it quickly became clear that, regardless of our official roles as mentor and mentee, Curran and I would be learning from each other—which fit in perfectly with the program’s goals.

“The Mentoring Program is designed to be both structured and unstructured, which means the pairs decide what works best between them,” Wist explains, noting that only about 10 of the average 30 people who apply annually are chosen for the three-year-old program.“It's so specific to each pair—what their interests are, how much time they have and how their relationship evolves and unfolds."

Curran was interested in combining her preexisting skills—primarily graphic design and photography—with her extensive UVic knowledge, as well as finding a way to connect with the greater campus community. While the mentoring program offers a mix of monthly sessions and self-directed meetings, we decided the best thing for us was to tackle a specific project—and I already had one in mind: a self-guided walking tour of the on-campus art collection. I was surprised that no such map already existed, so the idea had been in the back of my mind since I was hired, and Curran seemed the ideal person to bring it to fruition.

Seven months and many drafts later, our Campus Art Tour Guide is now complete, with a selection of short and long tours created in consultation with University of Victoria Art Collections. “We intentionally kept it simple,” says Curran. “It's not full of a lot of detail, because we wanted to encourage people to go out and explore the campus themselves.”

But now that both this round of the mentoring program and our project are complete, does Curran feel it was a good match? "I’m a very visual person, so it was great to have a project to work on,” she says. "And I now know there are ways to connect with other parts of the university, to participate in community-wide projects and creative opportunities like this. I've enjoyed working at the university all these years, so it's nice to give something back.”

The Campus Art Tour Guide will be available at the library, the Fine Arts office, the Welcome Centre [confirmation pending], downtown’s Legacy Gallery, Homecoming and online. For more information about UVic’s Mentoring Program, contact Jolie Wist at

PDF of Campus Art Tour Guide:


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Keywords: child and youth care, Mentoring Program

People: Sandra Curran

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