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Mentorship leads to a career with purpose

College is a time of exploration and learning. Students will learn from their experiences and their classmates, but they depend on the professors to guide them in more ways than just teaching in the classroom. For some, like Joe Langstaff, the relationships built with Tennessee Wesleyan professors provide a mentorship that lasts long after graduation.

Joe says that his professors meant everything to him while he was in school. In fact, those professors are a big part of why he chose to finish his undergraduate education at TWU. After receiving his associate’s degree, he began visiting schools in the region to complete his bachelor’s degree.

He felt at home from the moment he stepped on campus. Professor Linda Garza met with him and introduced him to the other professors in the social work department, “the feeling that I got when I was on campus, and the way I was treated – Ms. Garza introduced me to many professors while I was there. We all talked at great length, she went well out of her way and made me feel at home.”

While working full-time with a family, Joe leaned on all of his professors for teaching and guidance far beyond the classroom. Many of his classes were at night, but that didn’t stop his professors from staying after to talk to him and help him find his place in a social work career. He recalls a conversation with Garza about his first internship placement, “I asked her where she saw me working. I originally wanted to work with people that had substance abuse issues, but she said she saw me working with children, something I had never dreamt of during my schooling. So, I followed her advice and was placed at the Children Advocacy Center.” After a successful experience, Garza worked with one of her former TWU students at the Department of Child Services in Cleveland, Tenn. to place Joe in his second internship.

At the CDS, he joined a community with multiple TWU alumni and would go on to accept a full-time position in that office immediately after graduation. “I cannot stress enough how much Wesleyan prepared me for my career. I have a well-rounded foundation that is unmatched in my field. I can contribute all my accomplishments to the time I was at Tennessee Wesleyan.

The mentorship continues from his professors. “The professors in the social work department are still there for anything I need. Whenever I reach out to them, they still provide advice, guidance or resources – even though I know, they are very busy.” Joe says all the relationships and connections he made while a student, both professional and personal, is the unique aspect about TWU. “I guess that’s the nature of my field: we rely on everyone else to help. I mean, we aren’t in this alone.”